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Is this for real? It's hard to tell because many people (Ed Witten, Richard Feynman & others) have been called "the next Einstein". That phrase doesn't have much meaning anymore.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,311952,00.htmlA. Garrett Lisi, a physicist who divides his time between surfing in Maui and teaching snowboarding in Lake Tahoe, has come up with what may be the Grand Unified Theory.

That's the "holy grail" of physics that scientists have been searching for ever since Albert Einstein presented his General Theory of Relativity nearly 100 years ago.

Even more remarkable is that Lisi, who has a Ph.D. but no permanent university affiliation, solves the problem without resorting to exotic dimensions, string theory or exceptionally complex mathematics.

A successful Grand Unified Theory would use a series of equations to show how the four fundamental forces of nature — gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces — relate to each other.

Electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force, which controls radioactivity, were linked more than 30 years ago, and some progress has been made with linking them to the strong nuclear force, which binds protons together in the atomic nucleus.

But gravity has always been an outlier. Not only have all attempts to link gravity to the other three forces failed, but physicists still can't agree on what gravity actually is or how it works.

Lisi solves this by using the E8 lattice, an eight-dimensional structure visualized earlier this year in a widely circulated paper.

He noticed that several of the equations used to describe the lattice matched those he'd come up with trying to resolve the four fundamental forces.

"The moment this happened my brain exploded with the implications and the beauty of the thing," Lisi tells New Scientist magazine. "I thought: 'Holy crap, that's it!'"

By mapping known subatomic particles, plus 20 imaginary ones, onto the 248 points of the E8 lattice, and then rotating the lattice in a computer model, Lisi shows how the particles elegantly combine to form three of the four forces.

The imaginary ones combine to form gravity, for which subatomic particles have only been theorized.

*snip*

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