is beauty the deepest law of nature?

8708c622-9b75-4f24-979c-315db940d6f8Andrea Wulf at the Financial Times:

The question that Frank Wilczek poses in this book sounds simple — “Does the world embody beautiful ideas?” — but the answer is complicated. It’s a long “meditation”, as the Nobel laureate physicist calls it, on the idea of beauty as the organising principle of the universe, and also a eulogy on the importance of beauty as a source of inspiration for scientists past and present.

Wilczek chooses a historical approach because it allows him to move from simpler to more complex ideas, gently easing the reader into his argument. He begins with thinkers such as Pythagoras and Plato, moves on to Kepler and Newton, and ends with quantum physics. “In beauty we trust, when making our theories,” Wilczek believes, and so did many before him. Pythagoras’s theorem about right-angled triangles reveals the beautiful relationship between numbers and shapes, while Newton used mathematics to understand the fundamental laws of nature. In the 1860s James Clerk Maxwell’s work brought together electricity, magnetism and light as part of one concept — a unifying idea of a physical reality that was made up of space-filling fields — and he explained this through a system of equations. When these equations are written “pictorially” or in terms of flows, Wilczek explains, they become “a dance of concepts through space and time”.

more here.