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# Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry

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 inter
...more

Hardcover, 384 pages

Published
February 4th 2008
by Fourth Estate - London
(first published 2007)

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## Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)

Aug 04, 2015
Ami Iida
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
symmetry , group theory

Shelves:
math

Symmetry is all around us. Our eyes and minds are drawn to symmetrical objects, from the pyramid to the pentagon. Of fundamental significance to the way we interpret the world, this unique, pervasive phenomenon indicates a dynamic relationship between objects. 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; and symmetry—and the break
...more

Mar 17, 2010
Tracey
rated it
did not like it
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
Advanced higher level math students and incredibly patient readers

Recommended to Tracey by:
Found at library

*Symmmetry: A Journey Into the Patterns of Nature*shows a lot of potential. There simply aren't many books targeted to a lay audience exploring the complex concept of symmetry. But does Sautoy deliver a successful and accessible tome outlining symmetry and the nature of mathematical patterns?

**Pros:**Well designed cover; Interesting topic; Fusion of math & memoir

**Cons:**Condescending tone; Frequent redundancies; Lack of preface

Like most recent science and math books,

*Symmetry*is divided into ch ...more

Oct 12, 2015
Jose Moa
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
science,
mathematics

This book explains the mathematical concept of group by means of patterns of symetry in nature,is a book about groups;the bulk of the book is the history of the theorem about the classification of simple groups, a very long theorem demosstrated by the work of docens of group specialists ,the theorem is 10000 pages long and no single person has read it fully

The first story you encounter is that of the author, a mathematician who has reached middle age without having won a prestigious prize in his field. I hope I can be pardoned for not feeling sympathy for him. I find his appearances in the book almost always tedious (view spoiler) ...more

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 d ...more

This has about the best explanation for the math loving quasi-layman of the Monster symmetry which emerges from the depths of the 196833rd dimension.

An object with rotations for this symm ...more

Lack of footnotes was disconcerting, but the book did give a good idea of what it's like to be a mathematician, or at least what I feel to be a good idea. Since I am not a mathematician I can't say for sure. But Sautoy did convey the obsessiveness that I think you have to have to be a mathematician, as well as the hard work; and the two really go hand-in-hand. Unless you're someone like Gauss or Euler, you've got to really struggle to understand many mathematical concepts, which means you've got ...more

I really liked the concept of moonshine as it relates to math - the moon doesn't shine itself, but can be seen because ...more

Apr 19, 2012
Koen Van den Eeckhout
rated it
liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
non-fiction

As with all popular scientific books on mathematics, the sometimes incredible stories about famous mathematicians in history are the most amusing part of the text. However, Du Sautoy often tries to take a different approach and talk more

Unfortunately, he does this by avoiding any mathematical notations as much as possible, and he never goes into detail on the finer points of the theory, while s ...more

*in depth*about his own research or the great breakthroughs in the field of group theory and symmetry.Unfortunately, he does this by avoiding any mathematical notations as much as possible, and he never goes into detail on the finer points of the theory, while s ...more

I liked the idea of organizing the book into months through which the author describes his journey in search of symmetry. It was a good insight into researchers and scientists life, supervisors and students relationship as well as showing the importance of trust and collaboration among colleagues as a simple discussion might spark great ideas in the others head. He also mentioned some issues which handicap ...more

I mean, a braingasm that lasted the several weeks that it took me to read the book.

As I read, it kept being like, "Ok, so that last thing was awesome, BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!" With each new thing building on the previous awesome thing.

I'm a math and science fangirl, and I love to learn about mathematical objects. This book gave me lots and lots of new ones for my collection.

It was a huge source of joy.

I returned the library's copy and bought mul ...more

Right on the first count. Somewhat right on the second.

A lot of things remained unexplained, with a "this works because there is this fun kind of math behind it and here are a few properties of that kind of math" type explanation for a lot of the concepts/ideas/statements. I kinda wanted a little more of that math.

So then again, this book made me go look things up. Which was pretty awesome.

Aug 08, 2011
Simon Hampton
added it

This is a truly lovely book, combining a history of the mathematical pursuit of the theory of symmetry with stunningly eloquent insights about the motivations of mathematicians. It's over 20 years ago that I recognised the need to move on from maths, but this was a moving reminder of the wonderful hours and days (and baths) spent getting my head around a problem.

"A mathematician is a pattern searcher. I try to find the logic or the pattern that helps to generate the world I see around me."

"The symmetry of an object essentially provides a very simple program for constructing the whole of the object from a simple building block."

In my mathematics career some of my professors said that this can be related to symmetry like in my number theory class, but this book broke it down very well. Entertaining and worth the price for any math student or teacher.

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Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy, OBE is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

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