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The universe is a string-net liquid

From New Scientist:

In 1998, just after he won a share of the Nobel prize for physics, Robert Laughlin of Stanford University in California was asked how his discovery of "particles" with fractional charge, now called quasi-particles, would affect the lives of ordinary people. "It probably won't," he said, "unless people are concerned about how the universe works."

Well, people were. Xiao-Gang Wen at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Michael Levin at Harvard University ran with Laughlin's ideas and have come up with a prediction for a new state of matter, and even a tantalising picture of the nature of space-time itself. Levin presented their work at the Topological Quantum Computing conference at the University of California, Los Angeles, early this month.


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