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On Fri, 29 Oct 2004, backdoorstudent wrote: > backdoorstudent: What's so "beautiful" or "elegant" about string theory? > > > Lubos Motl: First of all, the laws behind the Universe are not dumb. > > backdoorstudent: I never said any such thing; that was Lubos putting > words in my mouth. Nevertheless, I would say that it's dumb to call the > laws of nature dumb (or smart). I was also surprised when someone confiscated my quote. ;-) Incidentally, the laws of Nature are pretty smart, and it's dumb if someone does not see it, and even more dumb if someone says that they are *not* smart. They are smarter than we are, and string theory seems to be smarter yet. I was not putting anything in your mouth. Instead, I was seriously writing an important fact about the physical laws - and the only relation to you is that I was trying to answer your question "What's beauty in physics and string theory". Sorry for any potential contributions of mine to the misunderstanding. The context of my sentence was that the laws of physics are not "simple" in the naive sense - i.e. simple from the viewpoint of a teenager who hates math. The beauty of the laws of Nature requires some intelligence and research to be appreciated. > If my opinion matters, -it doesn't, yet I cannot resist sharing it:)- > it is that the laws of the universe are completely indifferent to our > presumptions of beauty. I agree with that. They are indifferent - and they are beautiful. ;-) > Physicists love to romanticize about their > sense of beauty leading the way and repeatedly quote and make > reference to Einstein and his intellectual methods to support this > thesis. Right. Einstein, Dirac, and others were the people who started to emphasize beauty of the physical laws, and all of us are just followers, in a sense. But of course, it's not quite the same type of beauty that artists appreciate and create - or the beauty of women that attracts men. The beauty of the laws of Nature is a very rational thing $- at$ the very end, XY's statement that the laws are beautiful really means that the laws make sense to XY, and they fit together, and XY sort of understands them and can remember them - much like a smooth shape of a beautiful object (or subject). The other people, those who do *not* understand the laws of Nature, also don't appreciate their beauty. As long as something looks convoluted and unnatural to me, I won't say that it's beautiful. > But the history of science reflects a much more mundane and > tortured endeavor based mostly on curiosity and common sense rather > than aesthetics. This is what leads me to feel that all this blather > about beauty and elegance is nothing more than pontification. You don't seem to appreciate how amazing it is that the world satisfies some simple enough comprehensible laws at all. Einstein said that the most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible. If the laws of Nature were something that a theoretical physicist would call "ugly", it would be pretty difficult to find out how they exactly work - because this "ugliness" really means that the theories would not be robust, and there would be too many arbitrary components in them. __{____________________________________________________________________ ________} E-mail: lumo@matfyz.cz fax: $+1-617/496-0110$ Web: http://lumo.matfyz.cz/ eFax: $+1-801/454-1858$ work: $+1-617/384-9488$ home: $+1-617/868-4487$ (call) Webs: http://schwinger.harvard.edu/~motl/ http://motls.blogspot.com/ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^