THE SENSE OF BEAUTY is a tuning fork in the brain that hums when we stumble on something beautiful. We enjoy the resonant hum and seek it out. And when we return numb and weary from a round of shoveling the grim gray snow of life, beauty is the hearth, beauty's the fire, beauty's the cup of coffee (the fragrance, the saucer's clink, the curl of cream) that makes the whole business seem almost worthwhile. Ponder long enough as you sip and life can turn inside out under your gaze like a trick profile, and coffee and hearth become the reason snow exists, and beauty explains the world. Strangely enough, beauty is also a truth-and-rightness meter, and science and technology could not exist without it. Its tuning-fork hum guides scientists toward truth and technologists toward stronger and more useful machines. It leads the way forward.

This book explains how beauty drives the computer revolution: how lust for beauty and elegance underpinned the most important discoveries in computational history and continues to push research onward today.

David Gelernter,
from Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Technology
(Basic Books, 1998)


Next passage

Back to "The World According to David Gelernter"
in Atlantic Unbound



From Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Technology, copyright © 1998 by David Gelernter. Published by Basic Books, a subsidiary of Perseus Books, L.L.C.