Front cover image for Lost in math : how beauty leads physics astray

Lost in math : how beauty leads physics astray

Sabine Hossenfelder (Author)
"Whether pondering black holes or predicting discoveries at CERN, physicists believe the best theories are beautiful, natural, and elegant, and this standard separates popular theories from disposable ones. This is why, Sabine Hossenfelder argues, we have not seen a major breakthrough in the foundations of physics for more than four decades. The belief in beauty has become so dogmatic that it now conflicts with scientific objectivity: observation has been unable to confirm mindboggling theories, like supersymmetry or grand unification, invented by physicists based on aesthetic criteria. Worse, these "too good to not be true" theories are actually untestable and they have left the field in a cul-de-sac. To escape, physicists must rethink their methods. Only by embracing reality as it is can science discover the truth"-- Provided by publisher
Print Book, English, 2018
First edition View all formats and editions
Basic Books, New York, NY, 2018
xi, 291 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
9780465094257, 0465094252
The hidden rules of physics : in which I realize I don't understand physics anymore. I talk to friends and colleagues, see I'm not the only one confused, and set out to bring reason back to Earth
What a wonderful world : in which I read a lot of books about dead people and find that everyone likes pretty ideas but that pretty ideas sometimes work badly. At a conference I begin to worry that physicists are about to discard the scientific method
The state of the union : in which I sum up ten years of education in twenty pages and chat about the glory days of particle physics
Cracks in the foundations : in which I meet with Nima Arkani-Hamed and do my best to accept that nature isn't natural, everything we learn is awesome, and that nobody gives a fuck what I think
Ideal theories : in which I search for the end of science but find that the imagination of theoretical physicists is endless. I fly to Austin, I let Steven Weinberg talk at me, and realize how much we do just to avoid boredom
The incomprehensible comprehensibility of quantum mechanics : in which I ponder the difference between math and magic
One to rule them all : in which I try to find out if anyone would care about the laws of nature if they weren't beautiful. I stop off in Arizona, where Frank Wilczek tells me his little Theory of Something, then I fly to Maui and listen to Garrett Lisi. I learn some ugly facts and count physicists
Space, the final frontier : in which I try to understand a string theorist and almost succeed
The universe, all there is, and the rest : in which I admire the many ways to explain why nobody sees the particles we invent
Knowledge is power : in which I conclude the world would be a better place if everyone listened to me
Appendix A. The standard model particles
Appendix B. The trouble with naturalness
Appendix C. What you can do to help
"June 2018"--Title page verso