Unifying the Universe

Olivier Loose
ILLUMINATION
Published in
14 min readMay 10, 2021

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Unifying the Universe: A closer look at Garrett Lisi’s E8 Theory.
(Source image: Adapted from Paper Garrett Lisi)

Thinking up a single theory that explains everything within the physical world is what seems to drive several theoretical physicists. From the dynamics of the largest cosmological structures down to the twists and turns of quantum systems at the smallest of scales.

The leading position in the search for a unifying mathematical scheme is arguably occupied by string theory — an overarching theoretical framework that conjectures one-dimensional vibrating strings as the most fundamental components of the Universe.

This article throws some light on another, more controversial contender, namely Garrett Lisi’s Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything.

Unifying What?

The toughest hurdle along the way towards unification is supposedly epitomized by the quest of consistently marrying quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity across the entire energy spectrum.

The natural laws that predominately describe the behaviour of systems at short distance scales (atomic and subatomic levels) are called quantum mechanics, and they underpin the workings of the Standard Model of Particle Physics, which brings together all currently known particles and their interactions — except for gravity — under one theoretical roof.

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Olivier Loose
ILLUMINATION

Science writer at A Circle Is Round (https://acircleisround.com) • Writing preparation courses and exercise packages in the field of the physical sciences •