Writing for The Atlantic, UC Berkeley mathematician Edward Frenkel highlights the centrality of mathematics in theoretical physics.
Frenkel points out that the recipients of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics received the award for predicting—using mathematics—the Higgs boson, which was confirmed experimentally 50 years after they posited its existence.
Not that Frenkel opposes construction of apparatus like the Large Hadron Collider (which helped find the long-elusive Higgs). He says:
Experiment is the ultimate judge of a theory, and that’s why we do need expensive and sophisticated machines. But the amazing fact is that scientists like Einstein and Higgs have used the most abstract mathematical knowledge to unlock the deepest secrets of the universe.
Read the essay.