A new theory of everything

New Scientist: Physicists have a problem, and they will be the first to admit it. The two mathematical frameworks that govern modern physics, quantum mechanics and general relativity, just don’t play nicely together despite decades of attempts at unification. Eric Weinstein, a consultant at a New York City hedge fund with a background in mathematics and physics, says the solution is to find beauty before seeking truth.

Weinstein hit the headlines last week after mathematician Marcus du Sautoy at the University of Oxford invited him to give a lecture detailing his new theory of the universe, dubbed Geometric Unity. Du Sautoy also provided an overview of Weinstein’s theory on the website of The Guardian newspaper to “promote, perhaps, a new way of doing science”.

For a number of reasons, few physicists attended Weinstein’s initial lecture, and with no published equations to review, the highly public airing of his theory has generated heated controversy. Today, Weinstein attempted to rectify the situation by repeating his lecture at Oxford. This time a number of physicists were in the lecture hall. Most remain doubtful.

Most physicists working on unification are trying to create a quantum version of general relativity, informed by the list of particles in the standard model of physics. Weinstein believes we should instead start with the basic geometric tools of general relativity and work at extending the equations in mathematically natural ways, without worrying whether they fit with the observable universe. Once you have such equations in hand, you can try to match them up with reality. [Continue reading…]

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