The Beauty of Equations

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It would take a wise person to conclude that there is beauty in something called “Stratospheric sink for chlorofluoromethanes; chlorine atom catalyzed destruction of ozone.” But let a scientist lead you past the clumsiness of words, into an understanding of the elegance of theory, and the skies can quite literally open up.
At least they did for the Nobel Prize-winning team of Molina and Rowlands, whose equations led to our current understanding of ozone depletion. That’s one example of the abstract equation cutting to the heart of the real. But in all the sciences, physics, chemistry, biology, even computer science, there are elements of the beautiful.
To some, it might rest in the simplicity of theory, to others, it lies in the remarkable creative brainwork that underlies the unending search to capture the laws of nature.


Graham Farmelo, editor of “It Must Be Beautiful: Great Equations in Modern Science”

Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and author most recently of “Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries.”