Lost In Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray by Sabine Hossenfelder

Lost In Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray

bySabine Hossenfelder

Hardcover | June 12, 2018

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A contrarian argues that modern physicists'' obsession with beauty has given us wonderful math but bad science

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.


Sabine Hossenfelder is a research fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies and the author of the popular physics blog Backreaction. She has written for New Scientist, Scientific American, and NOVA. She lives in Heidelberg, Germany.
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Title:Lost In Math: How Beauty Leads Physics AstrayFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:304 pages, 9.65 X 6.55 X 1.45 inShipping dimensions:304 pages, 9.65 X 6.55 X 1.45 inPublished:June 12, 2018Publisher:Basic BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0465094252

ISBN - 13:9780465094257

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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From the Author

A contrarian argues that modern physicists'' obsession with beauty has given us wonderful math but bad scienceWhether 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.

Editorial Reviews

"Centered around insightful interviews with leading theorists, Lost in Math provides a well-informed take on the current state of fundamental physical theory, from a physicist who is utterly fearless, completely honest, and quite funny."-Peter Woit, mathematical physicist at Columbia University and author of Not Even Wrong