Beautiful Equations

Jim Al-Khalil’s entertaining Radio 4 programme The Beauty of Equations is now available on BBC iPlayer Radio.

Left to right, producer Deborah Cohen, Graham and presenter Jim Al-Khalili

Other contributors include the cosmologist Carlos Frank of Durham University, and the writer Philip Ball, who last week at the Comment Awards deservedly won the Science Commentator of the Year.

Graham recorded material for this two weeks ago at Broadcasting House, where Jim probed him on the aesthetic qualities of the Dirac equation. One point that Graham tried to stress that Dirac’s aesthetic approach to theoretical physics focussed specifically on mathematical beauty, not on some general concept of beauty.

Jim mentions Graham’s biography of Dirac The Strangest Man in the programme, though Graham’s most relevant book was his edited collection It Must be Beautiful, published in 2002, featuring essays by a wide range of contributors, including the historians Peter Galison and Arthur I Miller, mathematician Roger Penrose, writers Oliver Morton and Christine Sutton, and theoretical physicists Frank Wilczek and Steven Weinberg. The book was the fifth highest-selling science hardback of 2002.