ELEGANCE IN SCIENCE AND SCIENCE EDUCATION
Authors: Boris Aberšek
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Science is often thought of as a methodical but dull activity. However, the finest science, the breakthroughs most admired and respected by scientists themselves, are characterized by elegance. Thinking of elegance as grace, taste or refined luxury would be useless here. So what does elegance mean in the context of science? Economy is a considerable part of it, as is creativity. An elegant mathematical proof, an elegant theory, or an elegant experiment are all, that is, economical and imaginative, and sometimes breathtakingly simple, once explained.
When it comes to elegance, however, what do we mean? What does the word elegance truly designate? It comes from the Latin elegantia, "taste, propriety, or refinement." Elegance is usually a synonym for beauty and has acquired the additional connotations of unusual effectiveness and simplicity. The word is frequently used as a standard of tastefulness, particularly in the areas of visual design, decoration, the sciences and the aesthetics of mathematics.