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The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved: How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetryby Mario Livio
Synopses & Reviews
What do Bach's compositions, Rubik's Cube, the way we choose our mates, and the physics of subatomic particles have in common? All are governed by the laws of symmetry, which elegantly unify scientific and artistic principles. Yet the mathematical language of symmetry-known as group theory-did not emerge from the study of symmetry at all, but from an equation that couldn't be solved. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; For thousands of years mathematicians solved progressively more difficult algebraic equations, until they encountered the quintic equation, which resisted solution for three centuries. Working independently, two great prodigies ultimately proved that the quintic cannot be solved by a simple formula. These geniuses, a Norwegian named Niels Henrik Abel and a romantic Frenchman named and#201;variste Galois, both died tragically young. Their incredible labor, however, produced the origins of group theory. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; The first extensive, popular account of the mathematics of symmetry and order, andlt;iandgt;The Equation That Couldn't Be Solvedandlt;/iandgt; is told not through abstract formulas but in a beautifully written and dramatic account of the lives and work of some of the greatest and most intriguing mathematicians in history.
From the author of the bestseller "The Golden Ratio" comes the story of the 4,000-year-long mathematical quest that uncovered the laws of symmetry in nature and the arts.
About the Author
Mario Livio is a senior astrophysicist and the Head of the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the author of The Golden Ratio, a highly acclaimed book about mathematics and art for which he received the International Pythagoras Prize and the Peano Prize, The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved, and The Accelerating Universe. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
Table of Contents
2. eyE s'dniM eht ni yrtemmyS
3. Never Forget This in the Midst of Your Equations
4. The Poverty-Stricken Mathematician
5. The Romantic Mathematician
7. Symmetry Rules
8. Who's the Most Symmetrical of Them All?
9. Requiem for a Romantic Genius
Appendix 1. Card Puzzle
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