Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray

Sabine Hossenfelder. Basic, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-0-465-09425-7
Science writer and researcher Hossenfelder argues persuasively that physics has stalled because of a focus on mathematical “elegance” rather than reality. Hossenfelder begins with supersymmetry and the standard model of particle physics, created to explain all the elementary particles discovered in the 20th century. Supersymmetry theory, she writes, is accepted because it fits so well into previous theories. But it also predicts that more particles should be found at energies just above where physicists discovered the Higgs boson, but none have yet been discovered. Though physicists from Newton to Einstein have prized mathematical beauty in theories, Hossenfelder sees this belief as a dangerous limitation. Elegant theories, she observes, don’t explain dark matter and dark energy, or how to find multiverses. Along the way, Hossenfelder introduces an array of important researchers, including stoic Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg and social media-savvy Australian astrophysicist Katherine “Astrokatie” Mack. This layreader-friendly, amusing treatise gives an enlightening look at a growing issue within physics. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2018
Release date: 06/12/2018
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