Friday, 21 December 2007


"Finding Moonshine: a mathematician's journey through symmetry" is published in the UK by Fourth Estate on the 4th of February 2007. It will also be published in the US by HarperCollins on the 5th of March with the title 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 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.


Nigel said...

Cobratulations in advance of official publication day tomorrow (4th February).

I'm over half way through reading the book - but wanted to be the first to leave a comment on this blog.

An excellent read so far - I'll post again when I've finished (in the next few days I hope). It has really enthused me about the beauty of mathematics.

cjr said...

Really enjoying the book! Is there a companion site similar to where one can explore symmetry?

Marcus du Sautoy said...

My intention is to use this blog to add extra information that will enhance the reading of FINDING MOONSHINE. No plans as yet for anything quite as huge as the website

FHE said...

Reads like a thriller comparable to Nicci French. Excellent choice between what to explain and what to merely describe. Some questions:
- Is the relationship between the 17 tile symmetries and the set of the simple symmetry groups clarified somewhere in the book, or did I miss an explanation why this is an absurd question?
- Is there a geometric equivalent for the n-card shuffle?
- Is the condition x+y+z=even on p. 313 not the condition for cubic close packing rather than hexagonal?
- Is it feasible to give a formula or algorithm for the number of symmetries of e.g. the Monster? (Derivation or justification is not necessary.)