Why Beauty Is Truth

Why Beauty Is Truth

A History of Symmetry

Book - 2007
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Baker & Taylor
The renowned mathematician traces the history of the concept of symmetry, from the early Babylonians' efforts to solve quadratics to today's theoretical physics, citing the achievements of the mathematicians behind key discoveries.

Perseus Publishing
An eminent teacher and writer explores an idea both simple and complex, both multidisciplinary and unifying-the story of symmetry

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.


Book News
Stewart (mathematics, U. of Warwick) has written many popular books as well as technical papers. In this one he traces the notion of symmetry from ancient Greece to current mathematics and physics. The route does not begin with geometry, he explains, but with algebra, and leads through group theory, the quantum world of the very small, the relativistic world of the very large. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: New York City : Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2007
Description: xiii, 290 p. : ill. ; 25 cm
ISBN: 9780465082360
046508236X
Branch Call Number: 539.725 Ste

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b
barkisaz
Apr 17, 2018

Pretty good but!
The Sumerians were the first great civilization not the Babylonians.
Just a quibble.

p
patcarstensen
Apr 17, 2018

I'm not sure that knowing about Lie's tragic love life helps understand how Lie algebras work, but this is probably the best that can be done to explain the higher maths behind modern physics.

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1aa
Sep 16, 2015

The last third or so of the book is awkward to follow; it has the tone of 'this is how it is' rather than explaining or demonstrating. The author regularly mentions that such-and-such has proven so-and-so, and does so increasingly as the book continues, and does so for no evident purpose.

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