Why Beauty Is Truth: The History of Symmetry

Basic Books, 2007 - 304 pagina's
8 Recensies
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.

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1 The Scribes of Babylon 1
2 The Household Name 17
3 The Persian Poet 33
4 The Gambling Scholar 45
5 The Cunning Fox 63
6 The Frustrated Doctor and the Sickly Genius 75
7 The Luckless Revolutionary 97
8 The Mediocre Engineer and the Transcendent Professor 125
11 The Clerk from the Patent Office 173
12 A Quantum Quintet 199
13 The FiveDimensional Man 221
14 The Political Journalist 243
15 A Muddle of Mathematicians 259
16 Seekers after Truth and Beauty 275
Further Reading 281
Index 283

9 The Drunken Vandal 137
10 The WouldBe Soldier and the Weakly Bookworm 159

Overige edities - Alles weergeven

Veelvoorkomende woorden en zinsdelen

Populaire passages

Pagina v - O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede Of marble men and maidens overwrought, With forest branches and the trodden weed; Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty," — that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Over de auteur (2007)

Ian Stewart is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and is well known for his writing and broadcasting about mathematics for nonspecialists. He has written over 140 research papers on such subjects as symmetry in dynamics, pattern formation, chaos, and mathematical biology, as well as numerous popular books, including Letters to a Young Mathematician, Does God Play Dice?, What Shape Is a Snowflake?, Nature’s Numbers, The Annotated Flatland, and Flatterland. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001. He lives in Coventry, England.

Bibliografische gegevens