Beauty is Truth?


E=mc2. Einstein’s great equation represents a pinnacle of mathematical purity. But as the evidence piles up which general relativity struggles to account for, is the very elegance of Einstein’s theories preventing scientists from updating them? Is there always beauty in truth, or are aesthetics a distraction from the fundamental mission of science?

Excellent interview on this with Jon Butterworth, a physics professor at University College London and author of Smashing Physics: The Inside Story of the Hunt for the Higgs.


You have said in the past that beauty is found in simplicity, but isn’t it actually the complex nature of the world that inspires awe? 

Obviously it’s a subjective point of view but, for me, what inspires awe is the fact that such complexity can arise for some very simple underlying principles. It’s the combination of complexity and simplicity. If the universe was all manifestly simple, that wouldn’t be so impressive. But the fact that you can see all this complexity and wonder around us and it arises, perhaps, from some really elegant principles, to me that’s where the beauty lies.

Why is it rational to use the simpler theory to explain phenomena? Could using this approach lead us to something which is beautiful but untrue? Is beauty perhaps a distraction?

The full interview is here: Beauty is Truth?