Read Science!

Conversations about Science Communication and Communicating Science


S12:E03, “Lost in Math” edition, with Sabine Hossenfelder (audio)

Posted by jnshaumeyer on 3 March 2019

Streamed live on 11 February 2019.

Theoretical physicists often will talk about their favorite theories as “beautiful”, and many will use criteria of what they call “beauty” to judge the likely veracity of competing theories, as well as the success of their own work. Most physicists are aware of this–but where does this idea come from, is there any sense to it, and what does “beauty” even mean when talking about the math that physical theories are written in?

These are some of the questions tackled by Sabine Hossenfelder in her compelling book, Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray+. As she explores these ideas, and talks with a number of physicists about the ideas, she deepens her own understanding of what it means, and ponders what’s at stake for foundational physics theories, sharing her journey with us.

Discussing her book, her journalistic journey, and recounting stories and conclusions as we talked about “Lost in Math” with her, is what this episode of “Read Science!” was all about.

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