The supreme task of the physicist, Einstein believed, was to understand the 'miraculous' underlying order of the universe, in terms of the most basic laws of nature, written in mathematical language. Most physicists believe that it's best to seek these laws by trying to understand surprising new experimental findings. Einstein and his peer Paul Dirac disagreed and controversially argued that new laws are best sought by developing the underlying mathematics.
Graham will describe how this mathematical approach has led to insights into both fundamental physics and advanced mathematics, which appear to be inextricably intertwined. Some physicists and mathematicians believe they are working towards a giant mathematical structure that encompasses all the fundamental laws of nature. But might this be an illusion? Might mathematics be leading physics astray?
Graham Farmelo is a Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge and the author of 'The Strangest Man,' a biography of Paul Dirac.
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