The world’s grooviest theoretical physicist

Antony Garrett Lisi PhD, 40 is a theoretical physicist, and adventure sports enthusiast. Strange combination perhaps, especially when you consider that in November 2007, he published the result of his independent research entitled “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything” in The New Scientist, which, in laymans’ terms:

…aims to unite Einstein’s General Relativity, which explains how the universe works on very large scales, with that of quantum mechanics, which describes the world of tiny elementary particles.

Explained in slighly more technical language:

proposes a unified field theory combining a grand unification theory of particle physics with Albert Einstein’s general relativistic description of gravitation using the largest simple exceptional Lie algebra, E8.

In other words, he proposed a solution to something which even Albert Einstein failed to do: achieve the Holy Grail: an explanation uniting all the particles and forces of the cosmos.

The other thing is that he rejects string theory, which is currently the dominant model of the universe, to the chagrin of other theoretical physicists.

He does his research independently, meaning he does not work in a university.

In fact, he spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii, while in winter, he snowboards in the mountains near Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Apart from brain-busting activities, he is “a strong proponent of balance in life, particularly between scientific research and the enjoyment of the outdoors.”

He does surfing, snowboarding and windsurfing at the expert level and also does sailing, kitesurfing, mountain biking, skateboarding, motorcycling, cliff diving, rock climbing, hang gliding, paragliding, backpacking, water skiing, wakeboarding, flying, sky diving, and scuba diving.

He summarised his life philosophy perfectly during an interview with Wired News in February 2007:

Surfing and snowboarding are what I do for fun – to get out and play in nature. We live in a beautiful universe, and I wish to enjoy it and understand it as best I can. And I try to live a balanced life. Surfing is simply the most fun I know how to have on this planet. And physics, and science in general, is the best way of understanding how everything works. So this is what I spend my time doing. I do what I love, and follow my interests. Shouldn’t everyone?

Such is the interest in the “surfer dude” that Hollywood already expressed interest in making a movie about his life.

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