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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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« Maybe Not Improved, But Definitely New | Main | Quiz Time! »

November 15, 2007

And Speaking of Discovering Things. . .

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Posted by Derek

After extolling the joys of finding things out in the post directly below, I couldn't resist linking to this story for those who haven't seen it. Now, this guy is really out there on the edge, and I wish him well with his theory (available here on Arxiv for the mathematically inclined). What I especially like is that he's ready to make some testable predictions.

You know, when Feynman met Dirac, the first thing he mentioned to him was how wonderful it must have been to discover the equation that bears his name. If Garrett Lisi's theory can predict particles out of thin air the way Dirac called the positron, he'll be remembered the same way. Good luck to him, and to those like him.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: General Scientific News | Who Discovers and Why


1. Feynman's Bongo Drum on November 15, 2007 10:17 AM writes...

OK, his doctorate is in physics and mine is not, but I am of the impression that claiming that the whole of this crazy physical universe that we already know often makes no sense to our Newtonian intuitions can now be simply understood because some Spirograph has coincidence with some of our limited representation of particles is a stretch.

That said, this is science and not faith. Make predictions and test them. However unlikely it might be, prove it and you win the stuffed bear.

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2. CC on November 15, 2007 10:35 AM writes...

"An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything" is the best article title since "An Utter Refutation of the 'Fundamental Theorem of the HapMap'".

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3. DerekF on November 15, 2007 1:08 PM writes...

Well, of course Kary Mullis is a surfer too, and he won the Nobel for PCR. Maybe there's something in it.

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4. qetzal on November 15, 2007 3:51 PM writes...

I can't follow any of the math, but I agree with CC on the title. Some of the prose is quite nice as well. For instance, the conclusion ends thus:

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 free parameters 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.
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5. Fred on November 15, 2007 4:17 PM writes...

A one of the commenters to the article posted:

"I don't know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me" - Isaac Newton

Didn't know ol' Isaac had the soul of a surfer, did you?

I don't know that I want to compare Dr. Lisi to Einstein just yet but, this quote from Einstein came to mind immediately:

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."

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6. eman on November 15, 2007 10:42 PM writes...

The math is way beyond my wattage and training, but one thing struck me when I was reading Lisi's paper today: it had the same ring of truth and revelation as Einstein's 1905 paper on Special Relativity. The Big E's paper solved some huge problems with clarity and simplicity; things just fell into place. Lisi's hypothesis may be wrong, but it sure feels otherwise.

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7. tom bartlett on November 16, 2007 9:21 AM writes...

"Didn't know ol' Isaac had the soul of a surfer, did you?"

yea, but he became a religious nut later in life. There was a sci fi story that made use of that fact.. can't remember the name.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."

Love that quote, even though it's just a restatement of Occam's razor / Popper's hypothesis

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