Why is our world so beautiful? Asks Franck Wilczek

I have a question and it might be the most beautiful question in the world. And it is this — is the world a work of art?

Not just the obviously beautiful things, not just the stuff other people have labelled art. But all of it, every piece of the fabric of our lives and relationships. The bits we like and don’t, the people we love and those we don’t even know, and, those we maybe even dislike more than we care to say.

What if it it’s all a work of art? And it was not an artist that asked this question but a Nobel prize-winning scientist called Frank Wilczek, Frank is fascinated with the symmetries and harmonies that at their most fundamental level are the DNA to nature’s design model. In fact he wrote a whole book about it.

Theoretical physicist and Nobel prize winner Frank Wilczek is fascinated with the symmetries and harmonies that at their most fundamental level are the DNA to nature’s design model. He asks the question: Is the world a work of art?

Dirac equation

Albert Einstein and physicist Paul Dirac both generated theories about our universe that are often described as so beautiful that they are great works of art. Einstein’s was the theory of relativity, a beautiful description of how the universe works symmetrically. The Dirac equation is the symmetrical relationship of electrons to the natural world. Harmony, symmetry and maths all point to this atomic elegance.

In understanding the design of our world, there is a gravitational pull towards beautiful theories to describe its inner workings. Long ago, we intuited beauty as a key to nature’s foundational design model. Today we explore ‘supersymmetry’ when searching for the Higgs Boson. Supersymmetry is often described as being too beautiful to be entirely wrong. This elegant theory suggests every elementary type of particle we know of in nature has superpartners, which dance interactively with each other; but for some reason nature has hidden these beautiful exchanges from view. Many believe supersymmetry takes us towards a fully unified description of nature at the deepest level. Several of the world’s leading theoretical physicists draw encouragement from its surpassing mathematical beauty and the fact that, for the first time, it explains the very existence of gravity.

Wilczek in an interview, explains,

“It’s not that there’s some metaphysical concept of beauty that rules the world — beauty is a human experience. It’s something that has to do with how humans react to the world and perceive the world. And it’s notoriously thought to be subjective, but it’s not entirely subjective. There’s a very rich history of art objects and music and what people have found beautiful, and literature. And we can compare that to what scientists find in their deep investigation of what the world is, and see — not whether those things coincide; they clearly don’t coincide. There are forms of beauty that are not found in science, and there are facts about the world that are not beautiful. But there’s a remarkable intersection, I think, and a remarkable overlap between the concepts of beauty that you find in art and literature and music, and things that you find as the deepest themes of our understanding of the physical world”.

How beautiful is that?

Extract from Do Design. Why beauty is key to everything.

Published by The Do Book co. Copyright Alan Moore 2016.

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