The description below was taken from the original YouTube video’s description by PBS Space Time.
Existing Theories of Everything have not yet produced experimental evidence that solves the fundamental challenges facing physics. That lack of progress has opened up a sea of controversy, from disagreements about the very necessity of TOEs, to questioning the cost/benefit of mega-billion dollar particle accelerators in search of them, to the emergence of competing TOEs from physicists outside of the academic community. In this 90 minute chat we dive into the existential questions around TOEs.
Special thanks to Brian Keating, Lee Smolin, Sabine Hossenfelder, and Eric Weinstein for helping us create this great event.
“And that is really the founding crime for me in the string revolution, it was the desire to say that everyone who is not part of us is an idiot.” – Eric Weinstein
In this portal podcast clip, Eric Weinstein discusses the story behind String Theory with Garrett Lisi.
Garrett Lisi, the so called “Surf Bum with a Theory of Everything (or T.O.E.)”, is a PhD theoretical physicist who has refused to be captured by the theoretical physics community. By making shrewd investments, he has avoided holding meaningful employment for his entire adult life. Instead, he lives in Maui and travels the world chasing the perfect wave.
In this episode Garrett and Eric sit down to discuss the current status of Garrett’s ideas for a final theory based on a mysterious object called E8, perhaps the oddest of mathematical symmetries to be found in the universe.
Garrett and Eric have held each other in mutual “contempt” for over a decade. By vacationing together and staying in each others’ homes, they had hoped to hone and deepen their mutual disgust for each other’s ideas. However, as the theoretical physics community moved away from actually trying to unify our incompatible models of the physical world, it became intellectually unmoored, and drifted toward a culture of performative Cargo Cult Physics. The antagonists were thus forced by necessity to develop a begrudging admiration for each other’s iconoclasm and unwillingness to give up on the original dream of Einstein to unify and understand our world.
The discussion is rough but a fairly accurate depiction of scientific relationships belonging to a type that is generally not shown to the public. This may be uncomfortable for those who have been habituated to NOVA, The Elegant Universe, or other shows produced for mass consumption. We apologize in advance.
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