Modern physics and philosophy have so much in common! Even though at first glance this may seem absurd, the book entitled A Beautiful Question depicts this unlikely, yet fascinating relationship in the most incisive manner. This is quite unusual, since the majority of us could hardly imagine that a physicist – and a Nobel Prize winner – would actually ask whether the world is in fact a beautiful work of art and would dwell on some aspects of the quantum theory in searching for the answers to this question. It’s not often that scientists refer explicitly to Plato in order to explain their view of reality or include aesthetics as an important criterion for assessing the truthfulness of a mathematical description. And yet Frank Wilczek does all that and even more!
The search for beauty in nature dates back a long way. I will not elaborate on this subject, since it has already been profoundly analysed by the author. I believe, however, that we should focus on what our own intuition tells us to. Although not all of us are people of science, our intuition pushes us in the same direction in which the line of physicists’ reasoning goes. In fact, each and every one of us has a sense of beauty. In the world of physics, beauty reigns in the symmetry and economy, which, when combined, bring out a marvellous elegance of equations, not necessarily noticeable to ordinary bread eaters.
I can assure you that it’s not so different with managing. As a matter of fact, symmetry, perceived as the repetitiveness of structures and procedures, as well as resource economy, are the principles that guide us in the process of creating reliable, elegant solutions. Is there anything more effective? Even in this case, elegance may serve as one of the assessment criteria. Maxwell’s equations are beautiful. And doing business can also be; organisational structures or procedures meticulously designed by the managers. After all, every orchestra needs a conductor to be able to play beautiful music. And that’s how we, quite surprisingly, ended up discussing music.
However, it was all for a reason, since the author puts a big focus on to the relationship between music and quantum theory. More information on this subject and others can be found in the book entitled The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe written by Stephon Alexander, who is both a theoretical physicist and a jazz saxophonist. For Frank Wilczek, the amazing relationship between the world of sound and quantum-level reality is just one of many pieces in a vast, complex puzzle giving an aesthetic perspective on the laws of nature, which we discover and describe using the language of mathematics.
Physics, philosophy, aesthetics and art – all this can be found in A Beautiful Question, a book which is not necessarily simple to read, but definitely worth the time and effort.
The book is available at Amazon.com
Wikipage about Frank Wilczek
A talk about the book given at Talk at Google
The book “The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe” at Amazon.com