Front cover image for Why beauty is truth : a history of symmetry

Why beauty is truth : a history of symmetry

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
eBook, English, ©2007
Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, New York, ©2007