Synopses & Reviews
What do the music of J. S. Bach, the basic forces of nature, Rubik's Cube, and the selection of mates have in common? They are all characterized by certain symmetries. Symmetry is the concept that bridges the gap between science and art, between the world of theoretical physics and the everyday world we see around us. Yet the language of symmetry (group theory in mathematics) emerged from a most unlikely source: an equation that couldn't be solved.
Over the millennia, mathematicians solved progressively more difficult algebraic equations until they came to what is known as the quintic equation. For several centuries it resisted solution, until two mathematical prodigies independently discovered that it could not be solved by the usual methods, thereby opening the door to group theory. These young geniuses, a Norwegian named Niels Henrik Abel and a Frenchman named Evariste Galois, both died tragically. Galois, in fact, spent the night before his fatal duel (at the age of twenty) scribbling another brief summary of his proof, at one point writing in the margin of his notebook I have no time.
The story of the equation that couldn't be solved is a story of brilliant mathematicians and a fascinating account of how mathematics illuminates a wide variety of disciplines. In this lively, engaging book, Mario Livio shows in an easily accessible way how group theory explains the symmetry and order of both the natural and the human-made worlds.
Review
"The generously illustrated text has many visual aids and photos, as well as detailed chapter notes with lists of recommended literature sources and a Galois family tree." Library Journal
Review
"[An] entertaining exploration of how the laws of symmetry have shaped our chaotic little world, and how they inform our appreciation of art and music." Kirkus Reviews
Review
"Mario Livio has done a marvelous job....This is one of the best books about mathematics I have ever read." Amir D. Aczel, author of Chance: A Guide to Gambling, Love, the Stock Market, and Just About Everything Else and Fermat's Last Theorem: Unlocking the Secret of an Ancient Mathematical Problem
Review
"[F]ascinating examples of how mathematics illuminates a wide swath of our world." Scientific American
Synopsis
What do the music of J. S. Bach, the basic forces of nature, Rubik's Cube, and the selection of mates have in common? They are all characterized by certain symmetries. Symmetry is the concept that bridges the gap between science and art, between the world of theoretical physics and the everyday world we see around us. Yet the "language" of symmetry--group theory in mathematics--emerged from a most unlikely source: an equation that couldn't be solved.
Over the millennia, mathematicians solved progressively more difficult algebraic equations until they came to what is known as the quintic equation. For several centuries it resisted solution, until two mathematical prodigies independently discovered that it could not be solved by the usual methods, thereby opening the door to group theory. These young geniuses, a Norwegian named Niels Henrik Abel and a Frenchman named Evariste Galois, both died tragically. Galois, in fact, spent the night before his fatal duel (at the age of twenty) scribbling another brief summary of his proof, at one point writing in the margin of his notebook "I have no time."
The story of the equation that couldn't be solved is a story of brilliant mathematicians and a fascinating account of how mathematics illuminates a wide variety of disciplines. In this lively, engaging book, Mario Livio shows in an easily accessible way how group theory explains the symmetry and order of both the natural and the human-made worlds.
Synopsis
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, Ph.D., is head of the science division at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which conducts the scientific program of the Hubble Space Telescope. He is recognized as a world expert on topics ranging from dramatic explosions like novae, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts to compact astronomical objects like white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. He has published over 300 scientific papers and has lectured to the public about discoveries in astronomy and cosmology all across the globe.