Symmetry and the Monster: One of the greatest quests of mathematics (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, May 18, 2006 - Science - 272 pages
12 Reviews
The hunt for the 'Monster' of symmetry is one of the great mathematical quests, alongside Fermat's Last Theorem, the Riemann Hypothesis, and Poincar--eacute--; Conjecture. The Monster is a giant snowflake in 196,884 dimensions - the largest exception to our neat classifications of symmetry, with a beautiful structure which may turn out to unlock our understanding of symmetry, string theory, and the very fabric of our universe. The story of its discovery became the biggest joint mathematical project of all time - involving determination, luck, and some very extraordinary characters. - ;Mathematics is being driven forward by the quest to solve a small number of major problems - generating excitement in the mathematical world and beyond. Four famous challenges have been Fermat's Last Theorem, the Riemann Hypothesis, Poincar--eacute--;'s Conjecture, and, now, the quest for the 'Monster' of Symmetry. It is this latter that forms the topic of this book. Although its roots go back much further, the quest to understand symmetry really begins with the tragic young genius Evariste Galois, who died at the age of 20 in a duel. He used symmetry to understand algebraic equations, and he discovered that there were building blocks or 'atoms of symmetry'. Most fit into a table, rather like the periodic table of elements, but there are 26 exceptions. The biggest of these was dubbed 'the Monster' - a giant snowflake in 196,884 dimensions. At first the Monster was only dimly seen. Did it really exist, or was it a mirage? Many mathematicians became involved. The Monster became clearer, and it was no longer monstrous but a beautiful form that pointed out deep connections between symmetry, string theory, and the very fabric and form of the universe. The story of the discovery involves some extraordinary characters, and Mark Ronan brings these people to life, and recreates in accessible language the growing excitement of what became the biggest joint project ever in the field of mathematics - the hunt for the Monster. - ;...includes entertaining glimpses of the personalities involved ...but best of all gives an admirable amount of detail... - TLS;a fascinating book that will appeal to anyone with an appetite for exploration and discovery, and which is accessble to all. -

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Review: Symmetry and the Monster: One of the Greatest Quests of Mathematics

User Review  - Bretbenesh - Goodreads

It was good, and it made me more interested in learning more about some of the sporadic simple groups (this is pretty close to my field of research). The best points: it provides a good history of ... Read full review

Review: Symmetry and the Monster: One of the Greatest Quests of Mathematics

User Review  - Mohammed Hashem - Goodreads

I have attended a lecture about this book by the author in UCL early this year. At that time I did not know much about group theory, and after taking a class on it. I liked the topic so much that I ... Read full review


1Theaetetuss Icosahedron
Death of a Genius
3Irrational Solutions
5Sophus Lie
6Lie Groups and Physics
7Going Finite
13Fischers Monsters
14The Atlas
15A Monstrous Mystery
Appendix 1The Golden Section
Appendix 2The Witt Design

8After the War
9The Man from Uccle
10The Big Theorem
11Pandoras Box
12The Leech Lattice
Appendix 3The Leech Lattice
Appendix 4The 26 Exceptions

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