A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep DesignDoes the universe embody beautiful ideas? Artists as well as scientists throughout human history have pondered this “beautiful question.” With Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek as your guide, embark on a voyage of related discoveries, from Plato and Pythagoras up to the present. Wilczek’s groundbreaking work in quantum physics was inspired by his intuition to look for a deeper order of beauty in nature. In fact, every major advance in his career came from this intuition: to assume that the universe embodies beautiful forms, forms whose hallmarks are symmetry—harmony, balance, proportion—and economy. There are other meanings of “beauty,” but this is the deep logic of the universe—and it is no accident that it is also at the heart of what we find aesthetically pleasing and inspiring. Wilczek is hardly alone among great scientists in charting his course using beauty as his compass. As he reveals in A Beautiful Question, this has been the heart of scientific pursuit from Pythagoras, the ancient Greek who was the first to argue that “all things are number,” to Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and into the deep waters of twentiethcentury physics. Though the ancients weren’t right about everything, their ardent belief in the music of the spheres has proved true down to the quantum level. Indeed, Wilczek explores just how intertwined our ideas about beauty and art are with our scientific understanding of the cosmos. Wilczek brings us right to the edge of knowledge today, where the core insights of even the craziest quantum ideas apply principles we all understand. The equations for atoms and light are almost literally the same equations that govern musical instruments and sound; the subatomic particles that are responsible for most of our mass are determined by simple geometric symmetries. The universe itself, suggests Wilczek, seems to want to embody beautiful and elegant forms. Perhaps this force is the pure elegance of numbers, perhaps the work of a higher being, or somewhere between. Either way, we don’t depart from the infinite and infinitesimal after all; we’re profoundly connected to them, and we connect them. When we find that our sense of beauty is realized in the physical world, we are discovering something about the world, but also something about ourselves. Gorgeously illustrated, A Beautiful Question is a mindshifting book that braids the ageold quest for beauty and the ageold quest for truth into a thrilling synthesis. It is a dazzling and important work from one of our best thinkers, whose humor and infectious sense of wonder animate every page. Yes: The world is a work of art, and its deepest truths are ones we already feel, as if they were somehow written in our souls. 
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LibraryThing Review
User Review  antao  www.librarything.com(Original Review, 2015) Just this morning my Chi Kung teacher at the Sheraton Hotel (I’m doing classes over there at lunch time), a Daoist (Taoist) monk, said virtually the same thing whilst quoting ... Read full review
LibraryThing Review
User Review  fpagan  LibraryThingNobel physicist Wilczek's long "meditation" on the theme that the world embodies beautiful ideas. Nontechnically, but in Wilczek's usual idiosyncratic way, discusses Pythagoras, Plato, Newton, Maxwell ... Read full review
Contents
STRUCTURE FROM SYMMETRYPLATONIC  
ESCAPING THE CAVE  
METHOD AND MADNESS  
COLOR  
GODS ESTHETICS  
EINSTEINS TWOSTEP  
EXUBERANCE  
LOCAL COLOR  
EMMYNOETHERTIME ENERGY  
IN BEAUTY WE TRUST  
A BEAUTIFUL ANSWER?  
Acknowledgments  
Recommended Reading  
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Common terms and phrases
asymptotic freedom atoms basic beams Bohr’s bosons called carbon color charge color gluons complex numbers complicated concept conservation of energy Core Theory describe dimensions direction discovered discussed distance dynamical Einstein electric and magnetic electric charge electric fields electromagnetic waves electrons embody Emmy Noether encoded example experience Faraday’s figure frequency fundamental Galilean Galilean transformations geometry gluons graphene gravity hadrons Higgs particle human Ideal ideas images interaction Kepler kind laws light lines local symmetry magnetic fields mass mathematical matter Maxwell Maxwell’s equations momentum motion musical Nature neutrons Newton’s Noether’s nuclei numbers objects observed orbits pattern perspective photons planets plate Plato Platonic solids possible precise predictions principle probability cloud property space Pythagoras Pythagoras’s Quantum Beauty quantum mechanics quantum theory quarks question reality rotation spacetime special relativity spectral colors strong force structure supersymmetry surface symmetry theorem there’s things threedimensional transformations velocity vibrations vision wave function weak force weakons