Sabine Hossenfelder, Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, Basic Books, 2018, 304 pages, $17.99 (hardcover).

  • Jeremy ButterfieldEmail author
Essay Review


This is an engaging popular account of the present situation in fundamental physics. It is also a strong critique of that situation. All credit to Sabine Hossenfelder for writing a book that—while personal, indeed passionate—is unpretentious and humorous. Hossenfelder is a theoretical physicist at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies who also writes an excellent blog about physics ( The book is written in a blogger’s breezy style. It is both an essay on the present situation in fundamental physics and a memoir of her travels in recent years, conducting extended interviews with about a dozen physicists, including Nima Arkani-Hamed, George Ellis, Gordy Kane, Garrett Lisi, Keith Olive, Joe Polchinski, Steven Weinberg, and Frank Wilczek.

Their remarks are reproduced in extenso, interweaved with Hossenfelder’s thoughts. These are often appealingly ironic and/or self-deprecating. For example, when Polchinski compliments her by saying:...



For comments and corrections to previous versions, I am very grateful to: Feraz Azhar, Guido Bacciagaluppi, Alex Chamolly, Richard Dawid, George Ellis, Henrique Gomes, Sabine Hossenfelder, Joe Martin, Porter Williams, and especially Sebastian De Haro.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trinity CollegeUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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