âMr. Wilczek takes the reader on an expertly curated tour across 2,500 years of philosophy and physicsâŚOne of the great pleasures of Mr. Wilczekâs book is his wide-ranging interest in the way the beauty he finds in symmetry appears across human experience.Â âŚHe has accomplished a rare feat: Writing a book of profound humanity based on questions aimed directly at the eternal.ââThe Wall Street Journal
âInspiring and remarkably accessibleâŚ Wilczekâs language is lyrical and almost mysticalâŚwhatever the answer Nature will ultimately give us, we have the pleasure of engaging with an enlightened and humble mind.ââThe Chronicle of Higher Education
âThe beauty of [natureâs] equations merges with the beauty of literature in Wilczekâs book. Itâs a work of art.ââScience News
â[A] deep, challenging, and marvelous book.ââLibrary Journal
âA Beautiful Question is both a brilliant exploration of largely uncharted territories and a refreshingly idiosyncratic guide to developments in particle physics.ââNature
“A commendable investigation of the nature of reality.ââKirkus
âIn this delightful book, we are given a rare opportunity to enter the mind of one of the worldâs most creative and insightful scientists. Frank Wilzcekâs dazzling meditation on reality reveals the exquisite fusion of truth, beauty and the deep laws of the universe.ââBrian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe
âA Beautiful Question is a compelling introduction to the triumphs and challenges of modern physics, presented as a meditation on the role of aesthetics in the search for a deeper understanding of nature, and the deeper meanings of that search for humanity.Â Full of historical background and infused with the authorâs generous humanity, this is indeed a beautiful book, one I recommend to anyone interested in where science is going, written by someone who, by his many lasting contributions to science, has earned our attention.ââLee Smolin, author of Time Reborn and The Trouble with Physics
âIn this exquisite and remarkably accessible book, Frank Wilczek explores our cosmos as a work of art,Â revealing hidden beauty at all levels from the Galactic realm down to the subatomicÂ microworld that his trailblazing research has elucidated.Â His ability to see what others overlook makes him an inspiring guide not only for scientists, but also for artists and all curious people.ââMax Tegmark, author of Our Mathematical Universe
âIf youâve ever wondered what physicists mean when they describe a theory as âbeautiful,â A Beautiful Question is the ideal place to find out. Wilczek is both one of the greats of the subject, and not afraid to engage non-technically with the wonderful complexities and intangibilities of the mysterious beauty that lies at the core of our understanding of the physical world.ââPeter Woit, author of Not Even Wrong
âAnyone who has studied physics knows the startling beauty of those rare times when the clouds part and you see that math and reality are the same thing. With Wilczekâs new book, readers can catch a glimpse of that beauty without having to know the math.ââNoah Smith, Stony Brook University; author of âNoahpinionâ
âIn contemporary art, Beauty has faded, a prosaic artifice, a distraction from deeper raw truths, maybe even ugly truths. To the exceptional physicist Frank Wilczek, Beauty has proven a luminous ally, a faithful advisor in his discoveries of remarkable truths about the world. Ever in pursuit of truth, Frank guides us in a calm and winsome meditation on this subtle question: Is the world beautiful?ââJanna Levin, author of How the Universe Got Its Spots
âA beautiful treatise on a beautiful universe, this delightful series of meditations on the nature of beauty and the physical universe roams from music, to color vision, to fundamental ideas at the very forefront of physics today. In lesser hands such a romp could easily degenerate into a kind of new age mystical mumbo jumbo. However, Frank Wilczek is one of the deepest, most creative, and most knowledgeable theoretical physicists alive today. Read him or listen to him and you will never think about the universe the same way again. And if your experience is like mine over the years, you will definitely be the better for it.ââLawrence Krauss, author of A Universe from Nothing and The Physics of Star-Trek
âFrank Wilczek starts this fascinating book with the intriguing question: Does the world embody beautiful ideas? What follows is a masterful, intellectual journey, surveying a breathtaking tapestry of physics, art, and philosophy. One could ask Wilczekâs question differently: Does this book embody beautiful ideas?Â The answer would be a resounding Yes!ââMario Livio, astrophysicist, author of Brilliant Blunders
âBefore there was Science, there was Natural Philosophy. In this authoritative, ever-surprising, and lavishly illustrated account, Frank Wilczek brings the grand quest that so captivated Pythagoras, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, Noether, and a host of others both up to date and back to life.ââGeorge Dyson, author of Turingâs Cathedral
âA truly beautiful book, in design, in content, in theÂ insights that Frank Wilczek shares. This book helps me see how one of the worldâsÂ leadingÂ thinkers thinks, using beauty as a tool, as a guide in finding not onlyÂ the right problems but the right solutions. In Wilczekâs mind, there is noÂ clearÂ separation between physics, art, poetry, and music. Why do physicistsÂ call their theories beautiful? Immerse yourself in this book, wallow in it, sitÂ back and relax as you wander through it, and youâll soon understand.â âRichard Muller, author of Physics for Future Presidents
âFor a century, science has invalidated âsoftâ questions about truth, beauty, and transcendence. It took considerable courage therefore for Frank Wilczek to declare that such questions are within the framework of âhardâ science. Anyone who wants to see how science and transcendence can be compatible must read this book. Wilczek has caught the winds of change, and his thinking breaks through some sacred boundaries with curiosity, insight, and intellectual power.ââDeepak Chopra, M.D.
Does the world embody beautiful ideas? Our Question mayÂ seem like a strange thing to ask. Ideas are one thing,Â physical bodies are quite another. What does it mean,Â to embody an idea? Embodying ideas is what artistsÂ do. Starting from visionary conceptions, artists produceÂ physical objects (or quasi-physical products, likeÂ musical scores that unfold into sound). Our BeautifulÂ Question, then, is close to this one:
Is the world a work of art? Posed this way, our QuestionÂ leads us to others. If it makes sense toÂ consider the world as a work of art,Â is it a successful work of art? Is theÂ physical world, considered as a workÂ of art, beautiful? For knowledge ofÂ the physical world, we call on theÂ work of scientists, but to do justiceÂ to our questions, we must also bringÂ in the insights and contributions ofÂ sympathetic artists.
Our Question is a natural one,Â in the context of spiritual cosmology.Â If an energetic and powerfulÂ Creator made the world, perhapsÂ what moved the Creator to createÂ was precisely an impulse to make something beautiful.Â Natural though it may be, that idea is assuredlyÂ not orthodox, according to most traditions. ManyÂ motivations have been ascribed to the Creator, butÂ artistic ambition is rarely prominent among them.
Yet many creative spirits have found inspirationÂ in the idea that the Creator might be, among otherÂ things, an artist whose aesthetic motivations we canÂ appreciate and share or even, in daring speculation,Â that the Creator is primarily a creative artist. ThusÂ inspired, such spirits have produced deep philosophy,Â great science, compelling literature, and strikingÂ imagery. Some have produced works that combineÂ several, or all, of these features. It has been a joy forÂ me to discover and mine this vein of gold runningÂ back through our history.
Galileo made the beauty of theÂ physical world central to his ownÂ deep faith, as did Kepler, NewtonÂ and Maxwell. For all these searchers,Â finding beauty embodied inÂ the physical world, reflecting GodâsÂ glory, was the goal of their search.Â It inspired their work and sanctifiedÂ their curiosity. And with their discoveries,Â their faith was rewarded.
While our Question finds supportÂ in spiritual cosmology, it canÂ also stand on its own. And thoughÂ its positive answer may inspire aÂ spiritual interpretation, it does not require one. WeÂ will return to these thoughts toward the end of ourÂ meditation, by which point we will be much betterÂ prepared to appraise them. Between now and then,Â the world can speak for itself.