Might the physical world as we observe it be the embodiment of a few
hidden secrets? This quasi-mystical vision inspired great thinkers from
Pythagoras to Kepler, but went into deep eclipse with the rise of
classical physics. In modern physics it has made a decisive comeback.
Discoveries in quantum mechanics, and my own work in quantum
chromodynamics, give a precise, accurate account of the structure of
matter working almost entirely with ideas - with almost no explicit
reference to measured quantities. The miracle is that our ideal ``concept
world'' agrees with what experimenters measure.
Essentially everything we know about ordinary matter can be derived
theoretically, using beautiful equations, from just 4 measured quantities
-- two of which actually affect only minor details! The same ideas,
supplemented with 2 additional measured quantities, enable us to do all of
astrophysics. Finally I'll talk about ongoing attempts towards unified
field theories, using even fewer ingredients: some tantalizing successes,
and opportunities for further exploration.
For more information
about Frank Wilczek, visit his web
Additional resources for this talk: video.