Garrett Lisi's Theory of Everything
From at least the time of Pythagoras, great thinkers have been fascinated by circles. This diagram resembles the Daoist Bagua or a spherical Universe, but is part of the interesting work of Garrett Lisi. Garrett is already known for an unconventional career. After receiving his PhD, he found that all the postdoc jobs involved worshipping strings. Rather than follow this paper chase, he spends Winter snowboarding near Lake Tahoe and Summer windsurfing in Maui, much better uses of time. After some years work, he has introduced An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything.
E8 is an intriguing and well-studied mathematical pattern with 248 points. In Garrett's theory, each vertex corresponds to an elementary particle field. Some of these points correspond to the known particles, and others would indicate particles yet to be found. The undiscovered particles are testable predictions which may someday be found in accelerators. His theory requires only the four dimensions of Space/Time, and doesn't use strings.
Kea, Tony Smith and Carl Brannen have kept us updated on Garrett's progress. In October he was able to present his ideas at the Perimeter Institute, to very good reaction. Lee Smolin was particularly excited by the possibilities. In reaction Garrett's paper was unceremoniously removed from hep-th and moved to gen-ph, considered a graveyard for papers. (Though it was originally intended as a free forum, the arxiv has become quite corrupted.) Fortunately Garrett's paper has been restored and is receiving significant attention from the press. Hopefully he will get a journal publication too.
Garrett says his theory is far from complete. Despite the paper's title, the E8 pattern can be quite complex. Reducing it to the standard model of particle physics with gravity requires making assumptions that not all will agree with. Predictions of undiscovered particles need to be verified. Nevertheless, original work like Garrett's should be encouraged. His colourful visualisations of E8 are quite pretty, hinting at some fundamental symnetry.
Garrett also dreams about a Science Hostel, where theorists could work in peace. He would prefer somewhere in the mountains. I would humbly suggest Volcano Village on Kilauea, which has great hiking and is a natural spot for a forest retreat. The lower slopes of Mauna Kea would be another possible site, where one could snowboard and view the stars. Could anyone else nominate a location?