Though we usually associate a sense of elegance with art or fashion, poetry or dance, the idea of elegance is surprisingly important in science as well. The use of the term is most apparent in the "elegant proofs" of mathematics—which Bertrand Russell once described as "capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show"—but as Ian Glynn reveals here, the idea of elegance is essential to scientists working in all fields. Glynn draws on a wide range of examples that demonstrate the elegance of science, from Pythagoras's theorem and Archimedes' proof to Kepler's Laws, the experiments that demonstrated the nature of heat, and the several extraordinary episodes that led to Watson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA.
"A joy to read and Glynn, an eminent University of Cambridge physiologist, really knows his stuff. He tells it how it is with great clarity, good humor and a remarkably light touch."—New Scientist