Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Five thoughts on beauty from Paul Dirac

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Paul Dirac

It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one’s equations, and if one has a really sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress.

As time goes on, it becomes increasingly evident that the rules which the mathematician finds interesting are the same as those which nature has chosen.

I think it’s a peculiarity of myself that I like to play about with equations, just looking for beautiful mathematical relations which maybe don’t have any physical meaning at all. Sometimes they do.

The research worker, in his efforts to express the fundamental laws of nature in mathematical form, should strive mainly for mathematical beauty. He should take simplicity into consideration in a subordinate way to beauty…It often happens that the requirements of simplicity and beauty are the same, but when they clash the latter must take precedence.

A good deal of my research work in physics has consisted in not setting out to solve some particular problem, but simply examining mathematical quantities of a kind that physicists use and trying to fit them together in an interesting way, regardless of any application that the work may have. It is simply a search for pretty mathematics. It may turn out later that the work does have an application. Then one has good luck.

Paul Dirac

Written by nevalalee

April 22, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Quote of the Day

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