Apparently Atiyah was talking about the "Galois group of the octonions" and the unification of the forces of physics at the Heidelberg Forum. Unfortunately not on the stage -- it didn't make its way into his talk. Can anyone who has heard Atiyah talk about this (at the Heidelberg Forum or elsewhere) say what he has said? (If Atiyah is ok with that being posted here, of course).

"Listening in on some of his conversations, I don’t think I’m violating any confidentiality by reporting that he’s quite taken with the idea that if one could make sense of the “Galois group of the octonions” one would find that it lies at the heart of unification of the forces of physics. I can’t do justice to his arguments for this, but, if you can find him, I’m sure you’ll get an enthusiastic explanation." (Via http://scilogs.spektrum.de/hlf/sir-michael-atiyah-unity-mathematics-physics/ )


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The video of his lecture is at the HLF website. I was unable to find it myself but thanks to Lashi Bandara we have it:


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    $\begingroup$ I read the quote as saying $Gal(\mathbb{O})$ was being mentioned in one-on-one discussions, but I might be wrong. Note the video is 52 minutes long, so if someone finds the timestamp of any relevant material that would be nice. :-) $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts
    Sep 26, 2016 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW I did not see mention of it from the slide on quantum computers/biological computers/robotic computers onward, including the one question at the end taken from the audience. $\endgroup$
    – Samantha Y
    Sep 26, 2016 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ he never mentioned octonions in his talk, only in conversations. $\endgroup$
    – Trent
    Sep 26, 2016 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Trent Thank you for clarification. I've took the liberty to edit your question to make it more clear. $\endgroup$ Sep 26, 2016 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ Please do not upvote this answer! I've decided to keep it here, because it's a good talk. $\endgroup$ Sep 26, 2016 at 20:01

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