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It Must be Beautiful Great Equations of Modern Science by Graham Farmelo

It Must be Beautiful Great Equations of Modern Science

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It Must be Beautiful Great Equations of Modern Science by Graham Farmelo

Equations lie at the heart of many of the most extraordinarily successful scientific theories. Here, some of the greatest living scientists unpack the best known equations so that they become understandable, and we are entertained and enlightened by a knowledge of how it was arrived at, what it can do and what remains to be understood about it.


A clutch of the world's most influential scientists explain in laymen's terms some of the best known and important equations that lie at the heart of many of the most successful scientific theories. A critically acclaimed book of wide general interest that will become a solid stock title for all bookshops.
Talk about science and you inevitably end up at equations. To the non-scientist, the two seem irrevocably linked. Yet it was only 350 years ago that Galileo proposed that the progression of science could best be achieved through a 'narrow observation
of phenomena

- with results described in mathematical terms. Since then some branches of science, of course, have remained relatively equation-free. You don't need mathematics to explain Darwin's theory of evolution or to describe the intricacies of continental drift or plate tectonics. In fact, as Graham Farmelo explains in his introduction, pure maths is abstract and has nothing at all to do with the real world that science seeks to explain. The great enigma for many scientists is not how a law of nature can be expressed mathematically, but why. This book is a revelation - and will do much to scotch the popular public conception of scientists as dry, rather soulless individuals. Here, in 11 succinct, enlightening and surprisingly readable essays, experts from the world of science explain, with remarkable passion, the attraction (and frustration) of working with equations. Dealing with a topic which most popular science books chose to shy away from, It Must Be Beautiful reads at times more like a philosophy text. Take, for example, the question of whether equations are invented or discovered, the fact that some equations seem to take on a life of their own or the question of why, as Einstein commented, the best theories 'are the beautiful ones'. If, as Farmelo suggests, equations are 'the poetry of the twentieth century', then this is the indispensable reader's guide. (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Graham Farmelo

Graham Farmelo is Senior Research Fellow at the Science Museum, London, and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Northeastern University, Boston, USA. He edited the best-selling It Must be Beautiful: Great Equations of Modern Science in 2002. His biography of Paul Dirac, The Strangest Man, won the 2009 Costa Biography Prize and the 2010 Los Angeles Times Science Book Prize.

Author photo © Paul Stuart

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Book Info

Publication date

6th February 2003


Graham Farmelo

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Granta Books


304 pages


Popular science



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