One way to achieve a degree of unification in physics would be to show how key aspects of the Standard Model of particle theory emerge from Loop Quantum Gravity. At the October QG conference Lee Smolin offered some ideas as to how that might happen. It involved having the links of the spin networks be BRAIDS. I can't decide what to think of this but Smolin has had fertile highly innovative ideas in the past so I want to try to understand it. That is what this thread is for. If anyone else wants to contribute insights or comment. everyone who wants to watch the recorded talk Here is the abstract has links the slides and the recorded talk http://loops05.aei.mpg.de/index_files/abstract_smolin.html be sure you have the lecture notes in front of you to read while watching the video. Here is the lecture notes/as slide transparencies http://loops05.aei.mpg.de/index_files/PDF_Files/smolin.ppt Here is the recorded talk. Allow at least a quarter of an hour for it to download---while you do something else http://loops05.aei.mpg.de/index_files/Video/smolin.wmv To me it seems strange that out of LQG Smolin is suddenly getting NUMBERS OF VARIOUS KINDS OF PARTICLES. I was thinking that LQG is just a theory of quantum gravity, focusing on quantum spacetime geometry and not trying to connect with the details of matter----it did not have "TOE" ambitions. But suddenly that has changed and in his talk Smolin is citing work by a lot of people I hadn't heard of before. I don't have arxiv numbers for this work. If anyone has read some earlier papers on this, I would be glad if you could supply links. The part I'm focusing on starts at SLIDE #55. there is some very interesting stuff leading up to that (about how matter could arise as a kind of defect in a spin network, and some computer studies with random spin networks) but the part about the RIBBONS AND THE BRAID spin networks starts around slide #55. any help that is focused on understanding this specific talk is welcome. I will add bits and pieces of the picture as I find more out.