
Why Beauty is
Truth 

A History of
Symmetry
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2007 SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE

Hidden 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 cosmology. Why
Beauty is Truth tells its history, from ancient Babylon to twentyfirst
century physics.
We meet Girolamo Cardano, the Renaissance
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
Évariste Galois, a young revolutionary who singlehandedly refashioned
the whole of mathematics by founding the field of group theory  only to
die in a duel over a woman before publishing any of his
work. Perhaps the most curious is William
Rowan Hamilton, who carved his most significant discovery into a stone bridge
between bouts of alcoholic delirium.
"A masterful tour de force
that
chronicles the three thousand year quest to understand  with the
precision
possible only through mathematics  the world we live in. With the
clarity fand wit for which he is well known, Stewart not only explains
the key discoveries, but also tells the fascinating stories of the
people who made them."
KEITH DEVLIN, author of THE MATH GENE
and THE MILLENNIUM PROBLEMS
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