Litercurious Book Review

TitleLost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray
AuthorSabine Hossenfelder, PhD
PublisherBasic Books (June 12, 2018)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, CD, Paperback, Hardcover
ASIN #B0763L6YR7


Dr Sabine Hossenfelder, PhD, is a physicist and a scientific writer. Find out all about her and her works on her website here.


Students young and old, and all those who want to extend their knowledge of particle and astro physics will love Lost In Math. It is also a powerful tool for anyone wishing to increase their knowledge of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN).


Dr. Hossenfelder’s compelling discourse on the subject of physics is not the usual heavily analytical, numerically driven revelation that is difficult to comprehend. Its focus is on an a selection of interviews with varied illuminated physicists. Dr. Hossenfelder then discusses the interviews and provides her opinions and views. She believes totally in the a priori method of traditional science. Yet she understands the elegant math of nature is a beautiful thing. She cautions us to guard against believing without empirical based evidentiary support.

Dr. Hossenfelder posits that the tug-of-war between the empirical (hard facts) and the esthetics nature (soft elements) creates a stress for those struggling to find unity. It is these esthetic judgements that she credits as the driver of present day research.

Dr. Hossenfelder shares her acumen and her considerable familiarity with the subject in a clear and concise manner, and without recourse to seemingly bottomless equations. Her sense of humor, whist dry gives the book a certain lightness not normally evident from such an able scientist. Her informal method aids the demystification of the subject for non-mathematicians.

The interviews are interesting and informative, but it’s Dr. Hossenfelder’s opinions that take the work to the next level. Her eloquent elucidation on the status of theories and concepts are beautifully paced and completely engaging throughout. When she does feel that a concept requires a challenge, she does so in a compassionate manner.


Lost in Math is a solid read. It is tolerable even for those who avoid mathematics like the plague. Dr. Hossenfelder takes the time to verbally guide you through each topic, and you will almost never have to fear having to face down one of those pesky equations. You will have to endure a brief mention of leptons and quarks, but they quickly pass and are replaced with a discussion on dark matter and dark energy. I found myself falling in love with the totally engaging supersymmetry (loving SUSY). Forget your calculator, just jump in and enjoy this wonderful work. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Lost in Math was the very best read on the subject of theoretical physics that I have read in quite some time. Dr. Hossenfelder’s humor carried the day by diluting the technically advanced concepts and explanations. The interviews are generally unremarkable, however her criticism of each is a revelation.

I do wish that the book had included more and larger plates. I would also have liked footnotes. That said, I found the appendices to be extremely helpful. Although Dr. Hossenfelder attempts to explain the mathematical and scientific method relating to the subject, those unfamiliar with basic theoretical physics concepts may struggle to follow.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder, NetGalley, and Basic Books for affording me the opportunity to review Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray.

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