Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of SymmetryHidden 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 twentyfirst 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 singlehandedly 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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LibraryThing Review
User Review  dcunning11235  LibraryThingThis was, as advertised, a history of symmetry; I feel that I did not get a good understanding for what exactly symmetry is, in a more advanced sense, however, which is partially what I was after ... Read full review
LibraryThing Review
User Review  Cheryl_in_CC_NV  LibraryThingThe author messed up. He frets aloud about giving us layreaders too much math, and still apparently didn't get a layperson to edit it for him. He avoids giving us equations, choosing instead to ... Read full review
Contents
The Scribes of Babylon  1 
The Household Name  17 
The Persian Poet  33 
The Gambling Scholar  45 
The Cunning Fox  63 
The Frustrated Doctor and the Sickly Genius  75 
The Luckless Revolutionary  97 
The Mediocre Engineer and the Transcendent Professor  125 
The WouldBe Soldier and the Weakly Bookworm  159 
The Clerk from the Patent Office  173 
A Quantum Quintet  199 
The FiveDimensional Man  221 
The Political Journalist  243 
A Muddle of Mathematicians  259 
Seekers after Truth and Beauty  275 
281  
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Common terms and phrases
Abel aether Albert angle atom Babylonian beauty became calculations called Cardano circle complex numbers construction cubic decimal dimensions discovered discovery Einstein electromagnetic electron Euclid Euclidean exactly exceptional Lie groups exist father Fermat primes field force formula fundamental Galois Galois’s Gamesh Gauss geometry gravity Greek group theory Hamilton Heisenberg idea Killing’s known Lagrange later Lie algebras light look mathe mathematicians mathematics matics Maxwell’s equations method moved multiplication negative numbers Newton Niels normed division algebra number system octonions particles permutations physicists physics Planck plane polygons problem proof proton proved quadratic quantum theory quarks quartic quaternions quintic quintic equation radicals real numbers relativity rotation Ruffini sack simple Lie algebras solution solve space spacetime spin square root string theory structure subgroup superstrings supersymmetry symbols symmetry group Tartaglia tells theorem Theory of Everything thing tion transformations triangle trisect turned universe waves Wigner wrote