You know. Theoretical Physicists have an image problem. I think Garrett Lisi is the cure for that problem.

He's put together a theory of everything. Yes, the same one that eluded Einstein. And unlike Einstein, who came up with his theories while working a boring job at a patent office, Garrett Lisi came up with his theory while surfing in Hawaii, and snowboarding at Tahoe. This is one extreme physicist.

Just maybe, this surfer knows everything there is to know about physics

He's put together a theory of everything. Yes, the same one that eluded Einstein. And unlike Einstein, who came up with his theories while working a boring job at a patent office, Garrett Lisi came up with his theory while surfing in Hawaii, and snowboarding at Tahoe. This is one extreme physicist.

Just maybe, this surfer knows everything there is to know about physics

For years, theoretical physicists have been searching to find the relationship underlying all the particles and forces in the universe -- a unification model. There's been a model around for 30 years, dubbed the standard model, but it's lacking one somewhat well-known force: gravity. Some physicists have looked to string theory, which proposes that all particles are made of tiny strings, to bring gravity into the fold. But Mr. Lisi disagrees, claiming that the string theory is full of holes. In fact, pressure to agree with string theory enthusiasts led Mr. Lisi to abandon books for surfboards. However, an organization called the Foundational Questions Institute last year awarded Mr. Lisi a research grant to pursue his own theory, which is based on finding parallels between particle relationships and the points on a complex, eight-dimensional mathematical pattern called E8. "I think the universe is pure geometry -- basically, a beautiful shape twisting around and dancing over space-time," Mr. Lisi told New Scientist. "Since E8 is perhaps the most beautiful structure in mathematics, it is very satisfying that nature appears to have chosen this geometry." Mr. Lisi's theory also makes room for gravity, the force responsible for all those leaves on everybody's lawns this time of year. This has earned him kudos in the physics world.

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17 November 2007