Beauty … what beauty? Beauty Seminar, 3/16/04 – Al Albano
“ A theory with mathematical beauty is more likely to be correct than an ugly one that fits some experimental data…” Dirac
What makes a theory beautiful? A historical example: the motions of heavenly bodies.
It started with the ancients … Circumpolar stars seen from Yellowstone Park
An earth-centered universe From Peter Apian, Cosmographia (1524)
A problem … Retrograde motion of Mars
A solution … epicycles … Mars moves on a circle, the epicycle, whose center moves on another circle, the deferent. There is a point inside the deferent, called the equant, not necessarily at the center of the deferent, such that the line from the equant to the center of the epicycle rotates with constant speed. The earth is located on the same diameter as the equant, but not necessarily at the center of the deferent … deferent epicycle Mars Earth Check out http://www.jimloy.com/cindy/ptolemy.htm
“If the Lord God Almighty had consulted me before embarking upon the Creation, I would have recommended something simpler.” Alfonso the Wise King of Castille (13th c.)
Kepler describes the observations, but he does not explain anything.
…ditto for Galileo And they did not seem to realize that they were dealing with the same phenomenon.
It must explain. Version 2: It must tell a story.
Enter Newton There’s a force. It’s the same force that makes apples fall, And tides rise, and holds galaxies Together.
It must be universal. Version 2:It must explain more phenomena than those used to construct it.
Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night,God said, "Let Newton be," and all was light. -- Alexander Pope
Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night,God said, "Let Newton be," and all was light. -- Alexander Pope It did not last; the devil howling "Ho!Let Einstein be!" restored the status quo. -- Sir John Collings Squire
It’s not a force. Mass warps space and time. Apples and planets and galaxies Just move along paths Of least resistance.
Same size as solar system. Weighs as much as 1.2 billion suns! Black holes exist
Problems: • Einstein’s theory does not work inside black holes. • It does not work right after the big bang, either.
Verdict: Einstein’s story does not explain enough – we don’t have a beautiful theory yet.