Does the world embody beautiful ideas? This is a question that people have thought about for a long time. Pythagoras and Plato intuited that the world should embody beautiful ideas; Newton and Maxwell demonstrated how the world could embody beautiful ideas, in specific impressive cases. Finally in the twentieth century in modern physics, and especially in quantum physics, we find a definitive answer: Yes! The world does embody beautiful ideas.
In this special lecture hosted by the School of Mathematics, Frank Wilczek presents the intellectual history of this question and discusses how esthetic considerations continue to guide our search for ultimate physical laws.