## The greatest physics theorem you've never heard of

发布时间：2019-03-15 06:20:01来源：未知点击：

Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos By Dave Goldberg WE PHYSICISTS have a habit of depicting our discipline as “beautiful” or “elegant”, where an outsider might be forgiven for seeing no more than an endless morass of equations. In an ideal world, those equations would be unnecessary; the ultimate goal of physics – and science generally – is to describe the world as simply as possible. One hundred years ago, one person brought us a great step closer. In this centenary year of general relativity, Albert Einstein is getting the plaudits, and no one would gainsay him that. But that same year, 1915, the excitement surrounding relativity spawned another seminal piece of work. Even among physicists, though, it is not nearly as famous as it should be. Perhaps that is down to the complexity of its mathematics, but perhaps the author’s sex and sadly short life played their parts too. Yet there is no doubt that Amalie “Emmy” Noether transformed how we think about the universe. Despite the hairy mathematics, her great first theorem can be described conceptually in just a short sentence: Symmetries give rise to conservation laws. This simplicity masks a penetrating insight. It provided a unifying perspective on the physics known at the time – and laid the groundwork for nearly every major fundamental discovery since. Emmy Noether is a story unto herself. Despite wide recognition of her obvious brilliance, she was confounded by the prejudices of German academic tradition at the turn of the 20th century. Born into a prominent mathematical family in 1882 – her father, Max,