Thursday, November 15, 2007

We Have A Testable Candidate For The Theory Of Everything!

For the past few hundred years, many scientists have tried to understand the relationship among the fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, weak nuclear force, and strong nuclear force) and the various particles (electrons, quarks, etc.) that make up the matter in the Universe. The hope is to understand all these various things as aspects of one single unified idea. This is called searching for unification or searching for ToE (Theory of Everything.)

For the past twenty years, the mainstream idea about unification is the String Theory/M-Theory. I think the extremely large number (1 followed by around 500 zeroes) of possible versions of String Theory is a fatal flaw (since it's likely impossible to find experiments that rule out all versions) and blogged about a book that points this out.

Imagine my pleasure in seeing that there's an alternative candidate that can be either verified or refuted. I saw a headline called "Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything" and my first reaction was he is probably another crank. Anyway, quite a few good physicists think the paper is not a joke, so I went to download it here (An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything).

My higher theoretical physics is extremely rusty but the paper sounds plausible. Most importantly, we will be able to check whether it's right or wrong in the next few years when suitable experiments are performed. From the paper:

The theory proposed in this paper represents a comprehensive unification program, describing all fields of the standard model and gravity as parts of a uniquely beautiful mathematical structure. The principal bundle connection and its curvature describe how the E8 manifold twists and turns over spacetime, reproducing all known fields and dynamics through pure geometry. Some aspects of this theory are not yet completely understood, anduntil they are it should be treated with appropriate skepticism. However, the current match to the standard model and gravity is very good. Future work will either strengthen the correlation to known physics and produce successful predictions for the LHC, or the theory will encounter a fatal contradiction with nature. The lack of extraneous structures and freeparameters ensures testable predictions, so it will either succeed or fail spectacularly. If E8 theory is fully successful as a theory of everything, our universe is an exceptionally beautiful shape.

Hey, maybe I will see warpdrives before I die after all!

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