UNSW - Science

Dirac Lecture: Beauty and Truth


Robert McCredie May, Baron May of Oxford, OM, AC, FRS is an Australian scientist who has been Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, President of the Royal Society, and a Professor at Sydney and Princeton. He now holds joint professorships at Oxford, and Imperial College London.


In his words:

In the mists of prehistory, it seems clear that our ancestors sought to make sense of their world through myth and magic, memorably associated with evocative cave paintings, stone circles, and the like.

The Greeks attempt to understand the motions of heavenly bodies were constrained by essentially aesthetic ideas about the perfection of circles. 

Did the advent of the experimental method overturn this conjunction of truth with beauty?  Dirac’s equation speaks eloquently and amazingly to a contrary view.