A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design (Hardcover)

Finding Nature's Deep Design

By Frank Wilczek

Penguin Press, 9781594205262, 448pp.

Publication Date: July 14, 2015



Does the universe embody beautiful ideas?
Artists as well as scientists throughout humanhistory have pondered this beautiful question. With Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek as your guide, embark on a voyage of related discoveries, fromPlato and Pythagoras up to the present. Wilczek sgroundbreaking work in quantum physics wasinspired by his intuition to look for a deeper orderof beauty in nature. In fact, every major advancein his career came from this intuition: to assumethat the universe embodies beautiful forms, formswhose hallmarks are symmetry harmony, balance, proportion and economy. There areother meanings of beauty, but this is the deeplogic of the universe and it is no accident thatit is also at the heart of what we find aestheticallypleasing and inspiring.
Wilczek is hardly alone among great scientistsin charting his course using beauty as his compass.As he reveals in A Beautiful Question, this has beenthe heart of scientific pursuit from Pythagoras, theancient Greek who was the first to argue that allthings are number, to Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and into the deep waters of twentiethcenturyphysics. Though the ancients weren tright about everything, their ardent belief in themusic of the spheres has proved true down to thequantum level. Indeed, Wilczek explores just howintertwined our ideas about beauty and art are withour scientific understanding of the cosmos.
Wilczek brings us right to the edge of knowledgetoday, where the core insights of even the craziestquantum ideas apply principles we all understand.The equations for atoms and light are almostliterally the same equations that govern musicalinstruments and sound; the subatomic particlesthat are responsible for most of our mass aredetermined by simple geometric symmetries. Theuniverse itself, suggests Wilczek, seems to want toembody beautiful and elegant forms. Perhaps thisforce is the pure elegance of numbers, perhaps thework of a higher being, or somewhere between.Either way, we don t depart from the infinite andinfinitesimal after all; we re profoundly connectedto them, and we connect them. When we find thatour sense of beauty is realized in the physical world, we are discovering something about the world, butalso something about ourselves.
Gorgeously illustrated, A Beautiful Question is amind-shifting book that braids the age-old questfor beauty and the age-old quest for truth into athrilling synthesis. It is a dazzling and importantwork from one of our best thinkers, whose humorand infectious sense of wonder animate every page.Yes: The world is a work of art, and its deepesttruths are ones we already feel, as if they weresomehow written in our souls.

About the Author

Frank Wilczekwon the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 for work he did as a graduate student. His 1989 book, Longing for the Harmonies, was a New York Times notable book of the year. Wilczek is a regular contributor to Nature and Physics Today and his work has also been anthologized in Best American Science Writing and the Norton Anthology of Light Verse. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."