Monday, January 16, 2012

Beauty Contest has asked a whole lot of great wonks what their favourite most beautiful theory is. Some say DNA, some say string theory, and that's fair enough. I'm a supporter of string theory, if for no other reason than the solace in thinking that parallel universes exist where some of my personal relationships have had happy endings.

But the winner for me is Feynman Diagrams, indirectly mentioned by Timo Hannay:
I would like to propose not only a particular explanation, but also a particular exposition and exponent: Richard Feynman's lectures on quantum electrodynamics (QED) delivered at the University of Auckland in 1979. These are surely among the very best ever delivered in the history of science.
He's not wrong. The Douglas Robb Memorial Lecture with Feynman is one of the most important moments in NZ's scientific history, yet it passed by without so much as a blip at the time. Go on, have a taste of genius and beauty with one of the smartest guys of the 20th Century:

Just to nudge you, the clip above includes the best observation of the NZ character since Irish comedian Dave Allen desribed NZers as the most balanced people in the world, with chips on both shoulders.