Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry Paperback – 14 May 2009
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'If you don't experience a thrill of foreboding as du Sautoy ventures into this twilit territory, nothing in maths will be for you. Even if the thought of sitting down to a quintic equation makes you want to cry, it would still be hard to resist Moonshine's cocktail of anecdote, swashbuckling potted history and haphazard self-revelation. The moments of autobiographical intimacy bring the book to life…a joy.' Daily Telegraph
'Mesmerising…articulate, fluent, funny and personable, [du Sautoy] is also absolutely passionate about mathematics, with a burning desire to make the rest of us as excited as he is about its problems, its patterns and its beauty. He captures for us with brilliant vividness the excitement of the pursuit of a solution to a difficult problem.' Lisa Jardine, Sunday Times
'A fascinating and absorbing read.' Financial Times
'A marvellous account…these exasperating people with unkempt beards, untidy clothes, impossible manners and extraordinary obsessions, become, in this narrative, ultimately enviable.' Guardian
From the Back Cover
From fundamental particles to our ideas of art, from insect life to architecture and from the Alhambra to football, in ‘Finding Moonshine’, Marcus du Sautoy explores what is perhaps the most significant concept in mathematics: symmetry.
Following the eccentric individuals who have quested after symmetry through the ages, we are plunged into a very particular world: one of bearded professors and young geniuses killed in duels, of 196,883 dimensional shapes (known as the Monster) and of exhilarations unique to mathematical investigation. Grappling with some of the most complex ideas the human mind can encompass, ‘Finding Moonshine’ brilliantly combines mathematical insight with personal stories – and allows us to see the world just a little more as mathematicians do.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are interested in the characters in this story, this is a great book, but if you are interested in the mathematics, it's virtually worthless.
Finding Moonshine is ultimately about the search by mathematicians to prove the existence of a geometric shape known as the Monster. This shape only exists in 196,883-dimensional space, a concept way beyond the usual three we exist in, but we are not thrown in at the deep end. du Sautoy ushers us towards an understanding of this beast by a series of steps that reassured me and made me able to follow him, even if there was some rereading and consultation with my more mathematically minded husband.
We begin chronologically and geometrically with the basics, back to the ancient Greeks and the platonic solids. These are the five 3d shapes where each face is the same regular polygon and the same number of polygons meet at each corner / vertex: the tetrahedron (triangle based pyramid), cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron). I remember these fondly from primary school. With skill de Sautoy weaves together the history of mathematicians and theories with increasingly complex theories about the concept of symmetry.
Finding Moonshine is packed full of practical applications of symmetry, these give the brain a break from theory and enlightened me that symmetry is not just cerebral gymnastics. In fact it can be seen as an expression of the laws that underpin our universe and are so pleasing to the human sensibility.Read more ›
Sorry Marcus. Now a second edition of the primes with a much better explanation of the zeta function (a full one if he could manage it) would be worth it. The TV series was poor and left me wanting more, and so did the book, and that silly spaceship he wore on the xmas lectures...thats what happens when you commercialise education!
And, since symmetry is being discussed, so the existence of the Monster Group must be mentioned.
Strange about the modular function having such a close connection to it. What is really going on here? Nobody seems to know.
See also the book on Simon Norton - "The Genius in my Basement". Norton was one of the co-discoverers of the Monster.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The best bits of this book are when he's telling the stories of other mathematicians [eg Galois]. Unfortunately the bits in between about his academic meanderings are a little... Read morePublished 5 months ago by A. Dekker
Very readable and I now have all 3 of his books. Read one chapter at a time and give yourself time to absorb all the details.Published 9 months ago by bakewell
I love the way Marcus du Sautoy writes about mathematics; this book is an absolute joy.Published 15 months ago by Girl on a bus
Another book I bought for my Son who will study Maths at Uni, he finds this very interesting.Published 17 months ago by Anne J
A very interesting book for those who strangely enjoy and are excited by mathematics. Studying A Level mathematics would be an advantage.Published 19 months ago by consumer
An excellent book which goes some way to describes what a mathematician does all day. Good coverage of history and some modern mathematicians; particularly like the stories about... Read morePublished on 9 Mar. 2013 by Biro
making people write long reviews on ggod they receive is in my opinion expecting a lot. surely just a simple word comment is enough??Published on 1 Feb. 2013 by Ms. Julie A. Renyard
Anything by Marcus is enjoyable to read, even when the more complex maths bits lose me. Marcus clearly enjoys mathematics and is able to put across complex ideas in a way that the... Read morePublished on 29 Dec. 2012 by Josie Briggs