Math as Myth

A great song, Golden Ratio, and artwork from Benn Watt’s album. 

But simple, beautiful mathematical explanations can make us greedy. While we wish for all explanations of the world around us to be elegant, science often involves “the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact,” in the words of biologist Thomas Henry Huxley. Before positing elliptical orbits, Kepler himself succumbed to the desire for beauty when he suggested that the planets’ orbits could be modeled as the Platonic solids nested inside each other. His theory was beautiful, but it was soundly disproved by later observations of the outer planets. In a way, it was almost too beautiful to be right.

→ Nautilus