E8, An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything & surfer dude Garrett Lisi

“The only thing that makes sense is if the universe is beautiful and simple and elegant.” – Garrett Lisi

Garrett Lisi and his Mac

subtitle: My argument for Intelligent Design using E8 and Dr. Lisi’s ToE

A few months ago I saw an article about E8 and wanted to post about it but couldn’t because I could not find the links (although I spent a few hours looking at it). Maybe because I was working on 3 different laptops (or 4) that I could not figure out where I bookmarked it. One of the most beautiful things about E8 is its shape. Don’t take my word for it, here’s an oversimplification of it.

Graph of E8

I’ll give you a few minutes to catch your breath. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Why am I asking?

I wished I had thought about this – Something as beautiful and as symmetrical like this must have a purpose. But I didn’t. I just thought it was beautiful and then I just marvelled something like this could exist.

I think the first article I saw on this was this BBC article entitled “248-dimension maths puzzle solved”.

The last quote from Hermann Nicolai, director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (the Albert Einstein Institute) in Germany is very, very telling and prophetic:

“…mathematicians have known for a long time about the beauty and the uniqueness of E8, we physicists have come to appreciate its exceptional role only more recently, yet, in our attempts to unify gravity with the other fundamental forces into a consistent theory of quantum gravity, we now encounter it at almost every corner…”

So I forgot about because I didn’t where to start if I Googled it. (Try typing E8 out or remembering that a “Lie group” is pronounced “Lee” group)

And then I saw this post in news.ycombinator.com

and then this.

and also an article on the New York Times this month (here’s an excerpt):

“…There is a persistent legend in physics of the hermit genius, the scientist who drops out of academia and then returns, many years later, with an insight that moves the discipline forward. The brilliant outsider has become almost a stock character. David Deutsch, a British pioneer of quantum computer theory, had dropped out of paid academia several years before his theories won wide acclaim. Julian Barbour, whose theories helped pioneer a key physics concept known as background independence, left the university and never returned, holding forth in a farmhouse twenty miles outside Oxford and receiving graduate students as pilgrims. The most famous outsider genius was the patent clerk Albert Einstein. “Look, in my experience, the style of a well-trained Ph.D. going away, thinking hard about something for a long time, and coming back with something very original, something that’s a well-worked-out and well-thought-through point of view, is an essential, if rare, part of how theoretical physics progresses,” Smolin said. “Garrett fit the pattern…

It’s good to know that the E8 Lie group actually MIGHT have a link to our understanding of the universe. It might not be a complete model but the same way Einstenian physics eventually revealed that Newtonion Physics was just a subset of it, Garrett Lisi’s physics might eventually reveal that Einstenian physics is just a subset of it also.

If you want to read his original paper, here’s the link in arxiv.org

How do we know if Garrett Lisi’s model will work? The same way that Einstein’s General Relativity prediction of gravitational lensing was proven by the bending of light during a solar eclipse, Lisi’s predicts more particles that have yet to be discovered actually exist because of his model. Another crucial test according to the New Scientist is to fill the E8 entirely with the more than 20 new particles not envisaged by the standard model and “…Lisi is now calculating the masses that these particles should have, in the hope that they may be spotted when the Large Hadron Collider – being built at CERN, near Geneva in Switzerland – starts up next year…”. To quote the NYT article:

“…It took Lisi six months to work through the idea. He matched every photon, gluon, weak boson, graviton, Higgs boson, quark, neutrino, and electron, in each of the first, second, and third generations—every particle in the standard model—to symmetries of E8. He found that E8 had twenty more symmetries than the standard model had particles, and concluded that they indicated particles yet to be discovered. This led to a greater symmetry: on the terrain of E8, general relativity and particle physics were no longer out of joint. Lisi had his map for the universe…”

So you want to unlock the secrets of the universe? Sometimes all you need is to SURF and SNOWBOARD! hehehe

Garrett Lisi and E8

according to Dr. Lisi (via livejournal), this article on Backreaction is the first and the BEST summary of his paper (there’s even a YouTube video! woo-hoo!). Need an idiot’s guide on incomprehensible physics? Here.

The New Scientist has a nice illustration of how Dr. Lisi uses E8‘s smaller cousin G2 to show how the strong nuclear force works:

When A Gluon meets a Quark according to Dr. Garrett Lisi

My Thoughts on this and on intelligent design and even though Dr. Lisi is an atheist – Professor Vogan who presenting the results at MIT in a lecture entitled The Character Table for E8, or How We Wrote Down a 453,060 x 453,060 Matrix and Found Happiness described E8 as:


“..It’s as complicated as symmetry can get…”

Are you telling me that this happened RANDOMLY? That there’s NO INTELLIGENT DESIGN? Can anybody compute the odds when you’re using E8 ‘s symmetric yet super-complicated structure? The NYT article describes “the equations that encode its inner structure, if printed in small type, would cover an area the size of Manhattan.

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