The Universe Speaks in Numbers: How Modern Math Reveals Nature's Deepest Secrets

The Universe Speaks in Numbers: How Modern Math Reveals Nature's Deepest Secrets

by Graham Farmelo


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


How math helps us solve the universe's deepest mysteries

One of the great insights of science is that the universe has an underlying order. The supreme goal of physicists is to understand this order through laws that describe the behavior of the most basic particles and the forces between them. For centuries, we have searched for these laws by studying the results of experiments.

Since the 1970s, however, experiments at the world's most powerful atom-smashers have offered few new clues. So some of the world's leading physicists have looked to a different source of insight: modern mathematics. These physicists are sometimes accused of doing 'fairy-tale physics', unrelated to the real world. But in The Universe Speaks in Numbers, award-winning science writer and biographer Farmelo argues that the physics they are doing is based squarely on the well-established principles of quantum theory and relativity, and part of a tradition dating back to Isaac Newton.

With unprecedented access to some of the world's greatest scientific minds, Farmelo offers a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of the blossoming relationship between mathematics and physics and the research that could revolutionize our understanding of reality.

A masterful account of the some of the most groundbreaking ideas in physics in the past four decades. The Universe Speaks in Numbers is essential reading for anyone interested in the quest to discover the fundamental laws of nature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465056651
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 05/28/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 221,919
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Graham Farmelo is the author of several books, including The Strangest Man, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Farmelo is a Fellow at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge, an Affiliated Professor at Northeastern University, and is a regular visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He lives in London.

Table of Contents

Prologue Listening to the Universe 1

Chapter 1 Mathematics Drives Away the Cloud 11

Chapter 2 Shining the Torch on Electricity and Magnetism 33

Chapter 3 Shining the Torch on Gravity Again 57

Chapter 4 Quantum Mathematics 81

Chapter 5 The Long Divorce 101

Chapter 6 Revolution 127

Chapter 7 Bad Company? 143

Chapter 8 Jokes and Magic Lead to the String 161

Chapter 9 Strung Together 183

Chapter 10 Thinking Their Way to the Millennium 203

Chapter 11 Diamonds in the Rough 225

Conclusion The Best Possible Times 247

Acknowledgements 261

References 265

Archives 277

Notes 279

Index 305

Customer Reviews