Read Science!

Conversations about Science Communication and Communicating Science


S12:E05, “Modern Physics” edition, with Graham Farmelo (video)

Posted by jnshaumeyer on 26 June 2019

Streamed live on 18 June 2019.

Our guest today takes on some big ideas in his book, but the biggest may be the conundrum that has confounded physicists ever since Newton wrote down his Law of Universal Gravitation: why does mathematics seem to work so well at describing the universe that physicists try to explain? It keeps happening over and over again that when new ideas are needed for new theories, mathematics is there to provide the means of description that physicists were looking for. Just as often, then, the mathematics extends the ideas and shows physicists where to look for new experimental discoveries.

In this edition of “Read Science!” we talked to Graham Farmelo about the ideas in his book The Universe Speaks in Numbers: How Modern Math Reveals Nature’s Deepest Secrets. We recapped lots of the history of physics and mathematics working together, and talked about a whole lot of great ideas from Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, and Dirac along the way, all part of pondering the reasons that math and physics seem to get along so well together.

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