191 'Most Beautiful' Theories in Science

Relativity, theory of evolution top the list
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2012 4:43 PM CST
Updated Jan 21, 2012 7:00 AM CST
'Most Beautiful Theories' in Science Include Relativity and Theory of Evolution
The Edge has published 191 ideas about the most elegant and beautiful theories of the universe and life.   (Creative Commons)

(Newser) – Every year, the website Edge poses a big, open-ended question to leading scientists. This year's query—"What is your favorite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation?"—received 191 answers covering a wide range of ideas, with Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution receiving the most replies, reports Reuters. Some interesting responses:

  • "Darwin's natural selection wins hands down," writes Richard Dawkins, unsurprisingly. "Never in the field of human comprehension were so many facts explained by assuming so few."

  • Einstein's Relativity: "This central idea has shaped our ideas of modern cosmology (and) given us the image of the expanding universe," writes one theoretical physicist.
  • The human brain's fundamental irrationality: "An ancient brain system called the basal ganglia, brain circuits that consciousness cannot access" control our major life decisions, one neuroscientist writes.
  • Group polarization: Interacting with others does not mellow our opinions, but pushes us to extremes in politics and other issues. "The surprising thing is that the group as a whole becomes more extreme than its pre-discussion average," writes a psychologist.
(Read more the Edge stories.)

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