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.

Publisher:
New York : Basic Books, c2007.

ISBN:
9780465082360

046508236X

046508236X

Characteristics:
xiii, 290 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm.

## Comment

Add a CommentPretty good but!

The Sumerians were the first great civilization not the Babylonians.

Just a quibble.

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.

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.