Two months ago, the physics world was buzzing with the news of a new Einstein.
Garrett Lisi, an unemployed physicist with no university affiliation who spent his time surfing in Hawaii, had come up with the Holy Grail of science: a theory unifying quantum physics and Einstein's theory of relativity.
....The title of Lisi's paper - An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything - does not describe how easy his theory is, but refers to his use of one of the [building blocks of symmetry]...called E8, as the key to his idea to unify quantum physics and relativity into a theory.
E8 can be thought of as the symmetries of a huge snowflake living in 248-dimensional space. Lisi believed that inside this he could bind the symmetries of the quantum world and relativity.
Unfortunately, the consensus, after investigation, is that it is impossible to use E8 in the way Lisi was hoping and produce a consistent model that reflects reality. Lisi has been riding a wave - but it is time to knock him off his board and recognise that we are still waiting for the next Einstein to span the gap between the symmetries of the very small and the very big.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
His 15 minutes are up: