The last few days some interesting physics articles about string-net liquids have popped up. It began with Robert Laughlin's Nobel Prize for the discovery of particles with a fractional charge, a completely new type of matter. It was shown that sometimes several electrons can congregate in a way that they appear to have fractional charges.
Xiao-Gang Wen studied these particles together with Michael Levin and they came up with a theory they call string-net liquids. The theory suggest that all fermionic particles are endpoints of long open strings and that light is represented by fluctuations in a closed string. Simulations of vibrations in nets made of these strings gave rise to Maxwell's Equations and to other kinds of fundamental particles.
The slides from his presentation at a quantum computer conference early March can be found here. It includes some very complicated equations, but what he wants to show in the end is that fermions and light emerges from the collective motion of strings that fill the vacuum of space. A condensed string will be have like a single particle.
Interesting stuff, and hopefully this way of looking at the fundamental particles could get us another small step closer to figure out what this whole place is all about.