excerpt:

A complex form of mathematical symmetry linked to string theory has been glimpsed in the real world for the first time, in laboratory experiments on exotic crystals.

Mathematicians discovered a complex 248-dimensional symmetry called E8 in the late 1800s. The dimensions in the structure are not necessarily spatial, like the three dimensions we live in, but they correspond to mathematical degrees of freedom, where each dimension represents a different variable.

In the 1970s, the symmetrical form turned up in calculations related to string theory, a candidate for the “theory of everything” that might explain all the forces in the universe. But string theory still awaits experimental proof.

The structure is also the basis for another proposed theory of everything advanced in 2007 by surfer-physicist Garrett Lisi, who refers to E8 as “perhaps the most beautiful structure in mathematics”.

Now, physicists have detected the signature of E8 in a very different realm – experiments on super-chilled crystals.

Journal reference: *Science* (DOI: 10.1126/science.1180085)