Magic Numbers

Beauty is the torch you hold up in the belief that it will lead you to truth in the end," said Sir Michael Atiyah, former Professor in the School of Mathematics. With E=mc2, Albert Einstein built a bridge between energy and mass, two concepts that had previously seemed worlds apart. “Why is it so beautiful? Because it comes to life. Now energy will have mass and mass can be put into energy. These four symbols capture a complete world. It’s difficult to imagine a shorter formula with more power,” says Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study and Leon Levy Professor. 

“One of the reasons there’s almost an objective beauty in mathematics is that we use the word beautiful also to indicate the raw power in an idea. The equations or results in mathematics that are seen to be beautiful are almost like poems.The power per variable is something that is part of the experience. Just seeing a huge part of mathematics or nature being described with just a few symbols gives a great sense of elegance or beauty,” Dijkgraaf adds. “A second element is you feel its beauty is reflecting reality. It’s reflecting a sense of order that’s out there as part of the laws of nature.”

Read more at the Guardian.

November 21, 2016