Why Build a Universe?

K. C. Cole in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Beautiful-question-243x366Why build a universe anyway?

To create something beautiful, concludes Nobel laureate physicist Frank Wilczek in his relentlessly engaging new book, A Beautiful Question. “Many motivations have been ascribed to the Creator,” he points out, “but artist ambition is rarely prominent among them.”

The beautiful question the book considers, stated simply, is this: “Does the world embody beautiful ideas?”

The answer is an emphatic yes: “You bet it does,” Wilczek writes. “And so do you.”

What is the meaning of “beautiful”? Physics is pretty clear on the issue, and Wilczek makes the argument deeper, broader, and far more colorful (literally and figuratively) than ever before: it is harmony, balance, and above all symmetry, the core of artistry.

Symmetry is seductive, whether it appears in natural forms, like snowflakes, snails, and faces, or in human creations, like doilies, arches, and decorative tiles.

In physics, symmetries underlie every fundamental law, because symmetries reveal the deep truths often hidden behind superficial differences. Energy and matter are two sides of a coin, as are space and time, electricity and magnetism, waves and particles.

More here.