Today's Beautiful Gem: Excerpts from the essay
`Beauty and the quest for
beauty in science' by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.
"...The Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan left a large number of
notebooks. In these notebooks Ramanujan has recorded several hundred
formulae and identities. Many of these have been proved only
recently by methods which Ramanujan could not have known. G.N.
Watson, who spent several years of his life proving many of
Ramanujan's identities, has written: `I would express my own attitude
with more prolixity by saying that his formula gives me a thrill
which is indistinguishable from the thrill which I feel when I enter
the Sagrestia Nuova of Capelle Medicee and see before me the austere
beauty of _Day_, _Night_, _Evening_, and _Dawn_ which Michelangelo
has set over the tombs of Giuliano de' Medici and Lorenzo de'
"...Einstein's discovery of the general theory of relativity has been
described by Hermann Weyl as a supreme example of the power of
speculative thought, while Landau and Lifschitz consider the theory
as probably the most beautiful of all existing physical theories...
"...It is indeed an incredible fact that what the human mind, at its
deepest and most profound, perceives as beautiful finds its
realisation in external nature. What is intelligible is also
beautiful. We may well ask: how does it happen that beauty in the
exact sciences becomes recognisable even before it is understood in
detail and before it can be rationally demonstrated? In what does
this power of illumination consist?...
"...When Henry Moore visited the University of Chicago some ten years
ago, I had the occasion to ask him how one should view sculptures:
from afar or from nearby. Moore's response was that the greatest
sculptures can be viewed-- indeed, should be viewed-- from all the
distances since new aspects of beauty will be revealed in every
scale. Moore cited the scultptures of Michelangelo as examples. In
the same way, the general theory of relativity reveals strangeness in
the proportion at any level in which one may explore its
"...It does not, however, follow that beauty is experienced only in the
context of great ideas and by great minds. This is no more true than
that joys of creativity are restricted to a fortunate few. They are,
indeed, accessible to each one of us provided we are attuned to the
perception of strangeness in the proportion and the conformity of the
parts to one another and to the whole. And there is satisfaction
also to be gained from harmoniously organising a domain of science
with order, pattern, and coherence...."
Om s'aantih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao