Among the things we have to be thankful for is, well, us, along with the cosmos enough to move around in. Some folks are happier with the thought that we cannot understand this cosmos. Others, myself included, want to understand everything, or at least believe we can understand everything. So I give you E_{8.}

E_{8} is a complex geometrical structure. The Economist Science and Technology page gives a bit of the history.

E

_{8}... was first recognised in 1887 by Sophus Lie, a Norwegian mathematician. E_{8}is a monster. It has 248 dimensions and its structure took 120 years to solve. It was finally tamed earlier this year, when a group of mathematicians managed to construct a map that describes it completely.

The above, I gather, is only a two-dimensional representation. I am fascinated by the very idea that such a structure can be discovered. *Where* was it hiding? But here is the thing: it appears possible that the structure can be used as the template for a theory that would explain all known laws of physics.

Dr [Garrett] Lisi had been tinkering with some smaller geometries. Soon after reading about this map, however, he realised that the structure of E

_{8}could be used to describe fully the laws of physics. He placed a particle (including different versions of the same entities, and using particles that describe matter and those that describe forces) on most of the 248 points of E_{8}. Using computer simulations to manipulate the structure, he was able mathematically to generate interactions that correspond to what is seen in reality.

Better yet, Dr. Lisi's theory, unlike the more infamous string theory, generates testable predictions. It will soon be possible to look for massive particles that should exist if the theory is correct. Physics may come together after all.

If this does pan-out, then one thing is for sure. Plato was right. The foundation of being lies in mathematical ideas.

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