Beauty as a criterion for good physics?

Reading Arthur Miller’s article entitled “A Thing of Beauty” posted at Non-Commutative Geometry had me wondering again whether beauty is a justifiable criterion for good physics. Can the case of Feynman and Gell-Mann clinging to the law of conservation of parity in the theory of weak interactions in spite of experimental evidence that it is violated, be reason enough to promote beauty as a criterion to evaluate the quality of a physical theory? Perhaps nature is indeed inherently beautiful, but is  it not true that whether nature is beautiful can only be deduced by experiment, and only from there can beauty be given authority as a criterion for a physical theory that best describes nature? Throughout the development of fundamental physics, the quality of symmetry seems to be the characterizing beauty of nature, but as discussed at Non-Commutative Geometry – we would have to follow through the process of defining that characterizing beauty in the first place. On the other hand, there seems to be an inherent tendency within humans to pursue the sanctuary of order and pattern in his universe. The question then remains as to how far an extent we should go in indulging in this tendency and depending on its efficacy.


~ by musafiremes on August 26, 2007.

One Response to “Beauty as a criterion for good physics?”

  1. […] to various branches of mathematics, especially esoteric mathematics, and its simplicity and beauty, they question the truth value of string theory, and return to calling to task its inability to […]

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