This new book from the author of 'The Music of the Primes' combines a personal insight into the mind of a working mathematician with the story of one of the biggest adventures in mathematics: the search for symmetry.
This is the story of how humankind has come to its understanding of the bizarre world of symmetry – a subject of fundamental significance to the way we interpret the world around us. Our eyes and minds are drawn to symmetrical objects, from the sphere to the swastika, from the pyramid to the pentagon. 'Symmetry' indicates a dynamic relationship or connection between objects, and it is all-pervasive: in chemistry and physics the concept of symmetry explains the structure of crystals or the theory of fundamental particles; in evolutionary biology, the natural world exploits symmetry in the fight for survival; symmetry and the breaking of symmetry are central to ideas in art, architecture and music; the mathematics of symmetry is even exploited in industry, for example to find efficient ways to store more music on a CD or to keep your mobile phone conversation from cracking up through interference.
Marcus du Sautoy strives constantly to push his own boundaries to find ways in which to share the excitement of mathematics with a broader audience; this book charts his own personal quest to master one of the most innate and intangible concepts, and to demonstrate the intricacy and beauty of the world around us.