Quantum beauty: Real and ideal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


When I was asked to talk about quantum beauty I was a little startled, because the beauty of quantum theory is something that practising physicists, in the course of their work, rarely think about or mention. But when I gave the idea a chance, it really caught my imagination. And that’s why I’m here. Quantum beauty really is a wonderful, true thing to talk about. I’m going to sneak up on quantum beauty by putting it in historical context. The right context, I think, is a broader question: Does the world embody beautiful ideas? That is a question that people have thought about for a long time. Its intellectual history deserves volumes and syllabi. Here, though, I want to keep things brief and entertaining, so I shall spin a simple tale of heroes. Pythagoras and Plato intuited that the world should embody beautiful ideas; Newton and Maxwell demonstrated how the world could embody beautiful ideas, in specific impressive cases. Finally, in the twentieth century in modern physics, and especially in quantum physics, we find a definitive answer: Yes! - the world does embody beautiful ideas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBeauty
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781139342421
ISBN (Print)9781107693432
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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