Edward Witten: On The Big Bang, Music, and Beauty

Edward Witten: On The Big Bang, Music, and Beauty


375px-Edward_WittenEdward Witten is the Charles Simonyi Professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is best known for his research on string theory and is, according to TIME Magazine, often considered the greatest theoretical physicist in the world. He has received numerous awards for his work including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Einstein Medal, and the Fields Medal.



Q. What impact do the recent findings about the Big Bang and Inflation have on your work?

A. At the moment, there are questions about whether the recent findings will really hold up, or whether what was reported was an effect of dust in our galaxy. However, if the findings do hold up, they are remarkable evidence of an effect of quantum gravity and they give much tangible motivation for the quest to understand quantum gravity, which is what string theorists are engaged in. Also, this relatively large effect gives some hope that eventually it will be possible to obtain more precise clues about the workings of quantum gravity from future observations.


If your work is proven true, what are the consequences for everyday life?

Learning about string theory is like learning about a distant galaxy.  It is interesting, and the new understanding enriches our lives.


What do you think the world’s willingness to spend a reported $10 billion on the Large Hadron Collider says about human nature?

I think people really care about the results obtained by scientists, partly of course because of the practical applications of scientific work, but not only. Many of our fellow citizens are truly interested in the things that scientists learn about the universe, whether it is discovering the Higgs [boson] particle at a high-energy collider, observing a distant galaxy, or trying to understand the fundamentals of quantum gravity.


What motivates you to do what you do?

The topics I work on are fascinating.  Modern ideas in physics and mathematics have a beauty that, to one who has experienced it, is just as real as the beauty of music.



Interview conducted by Nick Antoine. Published May 16, 2014.

About the Author

A business enthusiast and biography buff, Nick Antoine holds an A.B. in History from Princeton University and is currently a research associate for a financial firm in the Chicago area. He is the founder of graham + west, a blog that presents insights into American culture through highlights from interviews with leading authorities in business, art, science, sports, and politics. You can visit his site at http://www.grahamandwest.com/

Real Estate

Real Estate, Professional, For Sale by Owner, mortgage interest rates, home prices, marketing plan, Reviews, testimonials

How to Hire a Winner in Real Estate

  How to Hire a Winner in Real Estate by Amy Lignor   You want to buy that new house because the twins are on their way. Little Betty and Little John are already … [Read More...]

More Posts from this Category


Deception Island, Easter Island, Heavenly Lake, Lake Baikal, Perth, Kauai, peace & quiet, vacation, remote

Finding Relaxation in the Most Remote Locations of All

    Finding Relaxation in the Most Remote Locations of All by Amy Lignor   It is a fact that the largest travel locations are also beyond popular. Among the … [Read More...]

More Posts from this Category


Chips, DVD Review, classic television, Ponch Poncherello, Jon Baker, California Highway Patrol Officers

Raunchy Adaptation of Classic TV Series Arrives on Home Video

  Chips DVD Review by Kam Williams Raunchy Adaptation of Classic TV Series Arrives on Home Video Whenever a classic television series is made into a movie, the buzz … [Read More...]

More Posts from this Category