Garrett Lisi and Eric Weinstein on The Portal #015

Eric Weinstein hosts a conversational platform called “The Portal”. In episode #015, posted February 2020, Eric and Garrett Lisi discuss Garrett’s efforts to develop a theory of everything. I’ll add some commentary here in an attempt to relate the discussion to NPQG. I’ll include timestamps for the portions I reference.

I’ll preface my comments with the thought that physicists have over-emphasized mathematics and specifically geometry as the key that will open the door to understanding nature. I do not agree. Mathematics certainly helps to describe observed patterns, but mathematics alone is unlikely to reveal the fundamentals of nature. Mathematics is used to represent a model of the behaviour of nature, but converting that model to fundamental reality is unlikely, in my opinion. Continuing to develop more sophisticated mathematics may be helpful to bound the set of potential root causes of nature and the universe, but the math itself is unlikely to lead to a true understanding. Consider that quantum mechanics circa 2020 includes mathematics that are based on experimental results at the scale of 10**-19 meters. The mathematics of QM works extremely well at describing certain aspects of nature. However, if NPQG is correct, fundamental nature is driven by classical particles at the Planck scale of 10**-35. That is sixteen orders of magnitude below what can be measured. I am sure you can imagine that mathematics sixteen orders of magnitude above reality can do a fine job describing physics at that 10**-19 scale and larger to our anthropocentric scale around 10**0, yet still be incredibly far away from a fundamental understanding of nature. We know this even from a simple example of only several orders of magnitude difference. Let’s say you take a 12 megapixel photo of a distant mountain range. You could learn something about the shape of that mountain from studying the pixels in the photograph, but you would have no detailed information about the constituents of that mountain – the leaves on the trees, the moss on rocks, the grains of dirt and sand, or for that matter the molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, and electrons that compose that mountain at smaller and smaller scales. This mirrors the situation of GR-QM era physics and cosmology through 2020.

Garrett Lisi has embarked on a scientific exploration as an independent researcher, unbounded by normal constraints of academics to publish or perish, seek tenure, follow the directions of bosses or peers in the department or field, adapt to funding sources, or stay with the herd. Garrett lives in Maui, Hawaii and is financed by his fortunate investment in Apple stock long ago. Garrett has explored symmetries of nature as related to a geometrical object called ‘E8’ and is currently attempting to build upon that work. There are many laudable aspects of Garrett’s research approach, including the ability to explore new ideas unencumbered and unconstrained. After such a long dry spell in particle physics, I think we need far more clean slate exploration of new and different ideas, examination of discarded ideas, and true imagination and creativity if we are to make a breakthrough in the sciences of physics and cosmology.

Garett’s work on the symmetries of nature, while fascinating, will not lead to a fundamental understanding of nature. He may discover mathematics which improves our understanding or bounds on solutions of nature, but the approach does not attempt to explain the root cause of nature and the universe. NPQG takes a different approach, starting with fundamental ingredients at the Planck scale and then imagining an emergence that eventually matches up to the mathematics and experimental results some sixteen orders of magnitude above. With that said, I’ll move on to more specific comments related to the discussion between Garrett and Eric.

@ 10:30 : The discussion is around the mathematical approaches of general relativity and quantum mechanics and why these theories are difficult to unify. First, let’s look at the definition of ‘quantum’.

“In physics, a quantum (plural quanta) is the minimum amount of any physical entity (physical property) involved in an interaction. The fundamental notion that a physical property can be “quantized” is referred to as “the hypothesis of quantization”. This means that the magnitude of the physical property can take on only discrete values consisting of integer multiples of one quantum.

For example, a photon is a single quantum of light (or of any other form of electromagnetic radiation). Similarly, the energy of an electron bound within an atom is quantized and can exist only in certain discrete values. (Indeed, atoms and matter in general are stable because electrons can exist only at discrete energy levels within an atom.) Quantization is one of the foundations of the much broader physics of quantum mechanics. Quantization of energy and its influence on how energy and matter interact (quantum electrodynamics) is part of the fundamental framework for understanding and describing nature.”


Einstein’s general relativity has not lent itself to a ‘quantum’ formulation because it is based on a continuous geometry of abstract curvy spacetime with no underlying physical foundation and explanation. In NPQG spacetime is implemented with a sea of low energy classical particles in composite shells that form a spacetime æther that permeates a (flat) 3D Euclidean volume of space. The fundamental particles in NPQG, the electrino and the positrino, are Planck scale (imagine hard spheres) and are themselves considered as quanta. Thus NPQG is on solid footing to establish a quantum theory of spacetime and to weave GR and QM together. However, it is important to note that not everything is quantized. Some aspects of nature are continuous, such as kinetic motion and some interactions of electromagnetic fields.

@ 29:00 : Garrett and Eric discuss the three generations of fermions where particles of the standard model are mirrored at three different mass scales. It is important to note that our knowledge of these three generations of matter come from particle collider experimentation and that generation II and III are unstable particles that have short lifespans before decaying. In NPQG many particles of the standard model are modeled as a neutral shell of electrino/positrino dipoles orbiting around a payload or nucleus. These shells shrink as energy increases and this is what gives rise to the Lorentz equation. What we call mass, including relativistic mass, is related to the energy a shell must have to encapsulate a payload. The generation I fermions have shells composed of three electrino/positrino dipoles oriented such that they stabilize the shells of neutrinos, electrons, and positrons in three dimensions of space. In particle colliders the detritus of the collisions occasionally causes one or two of these dipoles in the shell to be stripped away, with the payload intact, resulting in generation II or III fermions respectively. However, these particles can not be stable when surrounded by low temperature spacetime æther particles and quickly decay. Were these particles in high temperature spacetime æther near extremely dense matter, such as might be found near or in a neutron star or black hole, then presumably there is some spacetime æther temperature where generation II and III fermions might be stable for longer time periods. On the other hand, it is also possible that at those spacetime æther temperatures the shell might not have enough energy to contain the payload.

@ 30:00 : Garrett mentions “The Big Bang” indicating that he at least acknowledges the claim of ΛCDM cosmology of one time inflation and a Big Bang. This is just a passing reference so I won’t go into it deeply except to say that in NPQG there is no one time inflation and Big Bang, but rather distributed and dynamic occurrences of Planck particle cores in supermassive black holes (and possibly some other events like neutron star collisions or maybe even supernovae) that occasionally breach the poles of those galactic center black holes and jet Planck plasma at speeds that may be superluminal. For more detail, read the articles about black holes listed in the table of contents.

@ 31:30 : This discussion of spinors appears to have a relationship to the neutral shells in NPQG. This part of NPQG is not completely worked out, but shells can have different compositions of electrinos and positrinos (3/3, 6/6, 12/12) and it may be possible that some shell formulations are nested (a 3/3 shell inside another 3/3 shell for example). It may be that these shells behave in a way described by spinor mathematics. See Spin and Particle Shell Composition.

@ 39:00 : Great discussion between Eric and Garrett on open questions related to spacetime and spinors, i.e., an integration of GR and QM. In NPQG, spacetime is implemented by a sea of æther particles. The spacetime particle is a composite particle of electrinos and positrinos that have low energy at low gravity. As Garrett observes correctly “gravity is spin” but he is saying this in a mathematical sense without an understanding of the physical implementation. What is happening is that the energy of a spacetime particle is stored in kinetic and electromagnetic forms of the electrinos and positrinos orbiting along the shell on a path described by a wave equation. More energy translates to higher velocity (more kinetic energy) as well as a decreasing radius of the spacetime particle (more electromagnetic energy). The kinetic energy translates to spin and it must balance the electromagnetic energy of attraction of electrinos and positrinos in the shell and the electromagnetic repulsion of each electrino-electrino as well as positrino-positrino relationship. The bottom line is that we represent the total energy of a spacetime æther particle as its temperature and the temperature gradient of spacetime is the root cause of gravity. Where does the energy come from? It comes from electromagnetic forces from all other particle shells, especially those with payloads, i.e., what we call matter. The more concentrated the matter-energy, the higher the temperature of local spacetime.

@ 1:31:00 : Eric and Garrett discuss “no-go theorems” and in particular the Coleman-Mandula theorem that “prohibits the unification of gravity with the other forces.” Garrett mentions that his ideas evade the Coleman-Mandula theorem because in Garrett’s theory spacetime emerges after the spontaneous symmetry breaking with other forces. It turns out NPQG also covers this territory. In NPQG mass and gravity are only operational in dense spacetime æther within a certain temperature range. For example, inside a Planck core, there is no concept of mass nor gravity, for there is no spacetime æther in a Planck core. Within a Planck core, each electrino and positrino is carrying the Planck energy and is located in a rigid lattice. There is simply no possible way for an interior Planck core particle to transmit or receive energy since all neighbors are also at maximum energy. As a Planck core breaches the event horizon of a supermassive black hole, the jetting Planck plasma will presumably push aside local spacetime æther, so within the jet the concepts of mass and gravity may also not apply, at least not in their general forms. Only once dense spacetime æther forms during the reaction and cooling process will the general form of mass and gravity become operational. For a rough depiction of the Planck plasma jet cooling and reaction process, reference the models of the Big Bang timeline.

There are many other excellent topics discussed between Garrett and Eric including multiple revisitings of the many human-created problems within the fields of physics and cosmology. I’ve discussed these issues elsewhere and you can find them covered well in Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder’s excellent book “Lost in Math.”

Overall, I highly recommend listening to Episode #015 of The Portal.

J Mark Morris : San Diego : California