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Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry…

Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry (2007)

by Ian Stewart

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Only read 3/4ths of this, the history parts, the math parts are still outside what I can understand ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
This was, as advertised, a history of symmetry; I feel that I did not get a good understanding for what exactly symmetry is, in a more advanced sense, however, which is partially what I was after. Being able to perform an operation on an 'object' and not change it... got it. But when he starts talking about Lie groups, it all went a bit fuzzy for me. I know math (and science) books avoid like the plague actually having math in them, but this would have benefited from e.g. 'psuedocode' examples of what the various symmetries are/do, collected together at some point. Maybe crammed into an appendix for the more interested reader, etc. The cryptic notation (SO(2), E4, etc.) is fine, and what else are you going to call the things anyway, but without *something* concrete to hang those names off of it all becomes a hash. For me anyway.

Nonetheless, it was an entertaining read, and fairly quick at that. ( )
  dcunning11235 | Oct 17, 2016 |
The author messed up. He frets aloud about giving us lay-readers too much math, and still apparently didn't get a layperson to edit it for him. He avoids giving us equations, choosing instead to explain mathematical ideas in words - but the words are jargon. He explains what a square root is, and then just a few pages later expects us to readily agree that the cubic x (to the third power) = 15x 4 has the obvious solution x = 4." It does?? Ok, Stewart, who is your audience? I love mathematical concepts, but I had to give up on this book. I did scan to the end to be sure, and it did get worse." ( )
1 vote Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Only read 3/4ths of this, the history parts, the math parts are still outside what I can understand ( )
1 vote BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
Despite promises near the beginning of the book about making the math easy to understand I was quickly lost. But the short biographies of the various mathematicians were enlightening and entertaining. I was especially struck that so many of the math geniuses were also linguistic prodigies as well. ( )
  jjwilson61 | Feb 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 046508236X, Hardcover)

At the heart of relativity theory, quantum mechanics, string theory, and much of modern cosmology lies one concept: symmetry. In Why Beauty Is Truth, world-famous mathematician Ian Stewart narrates the history of the emergence of this remarkable area of study. Stewart introduces us to such characters as the Renaissance Italian genius, rogue, scholar, and gambler Girolamo Cardano, who stole the modern method of solving cubic equations and published it in the first important book on algebra, and the young revolutionary Evariste Galois, who refashioned the whole of mathematics and founded the field of group theory only to die in a pointless duel over a woman before his work was published. Stewart also explores the strange numerology of real mathematics, in which particular numbers have unique and unpredictable properties related to symmetry. He shows how Wilhelm Killing discovered “Lie groups” with 14, 52, 78, 133, and 248 dimensions-groups whose very existence is a profound puzzle. Finally, Stewart describes the world beyond superstrings: the “octonionic” symmetries that may explain the very existence of the universe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:17 -0400)

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"Hidden in the heart of the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, string theory, and modern cosmology lies one concept: symmetry." "Symmetry has been a key idea for artists, architects and musicians for centuries, but within mathematics it remained, until very recently, an arcane pursuit. In the twentieth century, however, symmetry emerged as central to the most fundamental ideas in physics and cosmology. Why Beauty Is Truth tells its history, from ancient Babylon to twenty-first century physics." "It is a peculiar history, and the mathematicians who contributed to symmetry's ascendancy mirror its fascinating puzzles and dramatic depth. We meet Girolamo Cardano, the Renaissance Italian rogue, scholar, and gambler who stole the modern method of solving cubic equations and published it in the first important book on algebra. We meet Evariste Galois, a young revolutionary who single-handedly refashioned the whole of mathematics by founding the field of group theory - only to die at age nineteen in a duel over a woman before publishing any of his work. Perhaps most curious is William Rowan Hamilton, who carved his most significant discovery into a stone bridge between bouts of alcoholic delirium." "Mathematician Ian Stewart tells the stories of these and other eccentric and occasionally tragic geniuses as he describes how symmetry grew into one of the most important ideas of modern science."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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