From the shapes of clouds to dewdrops on a spider s web, this accessible book employs the mathematical concepts of symmetry to portray fascinating facets of the physical and biological world More thanfigures illustrate the interaction of symmetry with dynamics and the mathematical unity of nature s patterns [Read] ➵ Longbow Girl ➲ Linda Davies – 9facts.co.uk this accessible book employs the mathematical concepts of symmetry to portray fascinating facets of the physical and biological world More thanfigures illustrate the interaction of symmetry with dynamics and the mathematical unity of nature s patterns This is a wonderful book about the things that BREAK symmetry Lots and lots of illustrations that truly bring the topic to life The very first photograph is of a milk drop falling into a saucer of milk The circular wave centered around the point where the drop hit the surface rises as a crown The crown has 24 spikes and droplets so there is 24 fold symmetry The reason there is ALWAYS a 24 fold symmetry seems to be a mystery.The book covers so many different subject areas geometry, astrono This is a wonderful book about the things that BREAK symmetry Lots and lots of illustrations that truly bring the topic to life The very first photograph is of a milk drop falling into a saucer of milk The circular wave centered around the point where the drop hit the surface rises as a crown The crown has 24 spikes and droplets so there is 24 fold symmetry The reason there is ALWAYS a 24 fold symmetry seems to be a mystery.The book covers so many different subject areas geometry, astronomy and cosmology, fluid dynamics, biology, nonlinear dynamics, andOne of the most fascinating chapters was about the gaits of animals, and how animals change from one gait to another like from trot to canter, and so on Highly recommended to everyone who is interested in the natural world A very nice book explaining the mathematical concept of symmetry and its application to patterns formations in physics, biology, astronomy etc I really love that the authors begin the discussion with Curie s principle a question somewhat fundamental to all sciences, also of important philosophical connotations whether symmetric cause has symmetric effect In my layman s understanding, symmetry is some transformation that leaves a particular structure invariant The structure can be a geometr A very nice book explaining the mathematical concept of symmetry and its application to patterns formations in physics, biology, astronomy etc I really love that the authors begin the discussion with Curie s principle a question somewhat fundamental to all sciences, also of important philosophical connotations whether symmetric cause has symmetric effect In my layman s understanding, symmetry is some transformation that leaves a particular structure invariant The structure can be a geometric figure, orinteresting to physicists, equation of motion A particular solution of the equation often do not have as many symmetries as the equation itself symmetry is broken However the symmetries are preserved by the set of all solutions I think it s beautiful in the sense that it resonates with our experience with Nature you see one piece of her work somewhere, then you know what else there could be, and they are all from same cause or origin one cannot be if others are not Another thing I found interesting is to compare this book side by side with Hermann Haken s books on Synergetics Lots of examples are the same But just from the keywords, you see different traditions of pattern formation studies One is about how things are broken from one, the other is about how many things e.g degree of freedoms come to be one The contrast worth much contemplation I also love the final part on symmetric chaos This teased me on a question I always think about what s the relationship between perfect symmetry breaking and statistical symmetry breaking It seems that there were hints but not yet conclusions when the book was written I played with some programs myself So much fun I m very grateful that the authors provided equations and pseudo code for curious readers I just started another book by Field and Golubitsky on this topic.I read this book because it was referred to in another book of Golubitsky called the symmetry perspective, which I think isinspiring Sometimes, greater pleasure comes with greater precision, especially for a math topic I recommend that book for any one who wants to dig deeper into the formalism Breaking symmetry to uncover one theory that rules them allBreaking Symmetry is certainly a magic term in this book With the use of innumerable real life examples and the use of dozens of pictures Stewart and Golubitsky try to illustrate the basic concept of the Theory That Covers Everything Being confronted with the dissection of physical phenomenon into degrees of symmetry, gives the reader enough reason to believe that the big theory might ultimately be uncovered by using the mathematic Breaking symmetry to uncover one theory that rules them allBreaking Symmetry is certainly a magic term in this book With the use of innumerable real life examples and the use of dozens of pictures Stewart and Golubitsky try to illustrate the basic concept of the Theory That Covers Everything Being confronted with the dissection of physical phenomenon into degrees of symmetry, gives the reader enough reason to believe that the big theory might ultimately be uncovered by using the mathematical tool of Breaking Symmetry But this book also points out that scientists are still far away from reaching this ultimate goal.The patterns discussed in this book takes you to the invisible world of quarks, then shows you the wonderful stripes on the fur of a tiger and finally let you surf the spiral arms of our Galaxy Clearly it gives the reader the opportunity to have a taste fromthan one scientific discipline Biology, Physic, Chemistry, Maths, they are all addressed in this book.But be aware you must keep yourself very alert while reading it, because the train of thought is not always easy to follow Apart from the sometimes strange jumps, the narration is very clear and easy to understand, which will certainly enable you to getinsight into the fascinating world of symmetry Nice book, easily accessible even to people with no mathematical background, and with very interesting insights and very good explanations and examples of what is symmetry and symmetry breaking I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book The only small defect is that the influence of symmetry and symmetry breaking in particle physics and in quantum mechanics where these concepts play a huge role was addressed only quite superficially. Part of my job includes teaching quantum mechanics to other people, so when I find a math book that not only offers up insightful takes on mathematical concepts I m not already nauseatingly familiar with but does so in humorous and accessible prose, I get truly excited Not only have I enhanced my own learning, I ve found a teaching example to look up to That said, not even Ian Stewart could make me care about the biology sections. Another of Ian Stewart s wonderful books.This one at least, my edition is apparently available only from UK, in a Penguin edition, although my copy ordered throughU.S came quickly and inexpensively.This one is another fascinating read.Highly recommended Expectedinteresting examples from a person like Golubitsky There s a fairly high probability that anyone who s interested in mathematics either professionally or simply out of curiosity has read one orbooks by Ian Stewart He s an accomplished professional mathematician with interests in many branches of the subject But he s also a very good writer and expositor of diverse mathematical topics Most of his books have been intended for general readers with an interest in mathematics These include popular topics like chaos theory, the mathemati There s a fairly high probability that anyone who s interested in mathematics either professionally or simply out of curiosity has read one orbooks by Ian Stewart He s an accomplished professional mathematician with interests in many branches of the subject But he s also a very good writer and expositor of diverse mathematical topics Most of his books have been intended for general readers with an interest in mathematics These include popular topics like chaos theory, the mathematics of biology, mathematical recreations, and mathematical curiosities His Wikipedia page lists about 36 books of this type But he s also written well aboutadvanced topics such as Galois theory and algebraic number theory.One of Stewart s particular interests is symmetry , which makes a lot of sense, because symmetry is a pervasive theme in mathematics and has been for some time Mathematically, symmetry is usually studied in terms of transformations that can be performed on an object and which leave the object essentially the same , in some sense Plane geometry or geometry in any number of dimensions, for that matter provides some of the most obvious examples Consider an equilateral triangle all of whose sides are the same length Such a triangle can be rotated about its center in either 120 or 240 degrees and will look identical to how it did before rotation Mathematically, a non rotation i e by 0 degrees is also considered and, trivially, doesn t change a thing The triangle can also be reflected across a line from any vertex to the middle of the opposite side This is known, naturally, as reflection symmetry Clearly, too, it makes no change at all to the triangle s appearance.However, symmetry can also be considered in ageneral sense in which a transformation does make some change to the appearance of an equilateral triangle, yet still leave it the same in arelaxed sense A transformation that only moves the triangle from one place to another changes nothing but the position, yet is still considered a transformation one which could be applied to almost anything, not just an equilateral triangle For example, a wallpaper design A rotation about the center by any number of degrees can be considered a symmetry of the triangle if you don t care about the direction the vertices point with respect to anything else in the plane Expansion or contraction of the triangle changes only its size, and that doesn t affect any of its abstract geometric properties, such as the fact that the sum of the interior angles of the vertices is always 180 degrees That s true for any type of triangle with straight sides, not necessarily an equilateral one It s possible to make evendrastic transformations to a triangle which can also be considered symmetries in a looser sense For instance, the lengths of two sides could be doubled or multiplied by any positive number , but the object would still be a triangle, with many properties unchanged, such as the sum its interior angles, or simply continuing to be a 3 sided polygon Eveninterestingly, transformations can be combined with each other and still yield a symmetry in the abstract sense A certain limited number of combined transformations may still leave an equilateral triangle completely unchanged reflections and rotations by multiples of 120 degrees, for example Sets of transformations that can be combined with each other are very important mathematical objects themselves known as groups Stewart devotes the second chapter to a brief discussion of group theory , but doesn t say muchabout abstract groups in the remainder of the book Groups are very interesting but their theory can quickly become quite complicated and deep Group theory is a pervasive topic in modern mathematics, and has been for almost 200 years Stewart doesn t go further with the subject or its history in the present book, but does in a later book Why Beauty is Truth.Instead, most of the book presently under discussion is concerned with cases where symmetry is broken that is, when the appearance or some other aspect of a real world object becomes different in some way The object no longer has a perfect symmetry of some sort, but only one that is merely approximate generally for understandable reasons Consider an automobile practically any kind Almost all cars have a left right mirror symmetry, which is a reflection in a vertical plane that runs through the center of the car from the front to the back But it s not perfect, because the steering wheel and various switches and gauges on the dashboard are only on one side or the other That s because hardly any cars now provide for anything except one single driver In addition, the layout of things under the hood is usually not symmetric either, since most cars have only one battery, alternator, etc Humans and most other higher animals don t have perfect left right symmetry either, for similar reasons They typically have only one heart, liver, stomach, etc not in the exact center of the body even though a few organs like kidneys and lungs are duplicated symmetrically, and the redundancy is useful In principle, a car could be built that had nearly perfect bilateral symmetry The seats for driver and passengers could be located in a straight line from front to back as with fighter planes withthan one occupant But the vehicle would then probably be much narrower to avoid wasted space and consequentlylikely to tip over when making sharp turns So the upshot is that nature often finds it convenient to break perfect symmetries, even if only slightly.Most of the rest of Stewart s book goes into many examples of this symmetry breaking For instance, although most land animals with legs have, externally at least, bilateral symmetry, they are mostly unable to move at all unless the legs don t all move the same way at the same time Hopping animals like kangaroos are an exception, of course There s a whole chapter in the book about the different ways that animals move their legs in order to walk or run and the pattern may change depending on how fast the animal needs or wants to go.There s a whole chapter on the symmetry of crystals A fascination with crystals whether or not taken to unreasonable extremes has been common in humans from prehistoric times even before homo sapiens as Stewart points out All crystals have some sort of symmetry, at least in principle, though often broken because of how their constituent atoms arrange themselves The study of crystal symmetries was historically almost the earliest example of the use of group theory in science Different minerals are in fact characterized by the types of symmetries their crystals may exhibit The symmetries are usually slightly broken, due to asymmetries of the chemical environment in which the crystal grew Randomness is pervasive in nature, but often leads to its own symmetries such as the way that smoke entering one side of a room will quickly become distributed fairly evenly within the room.Natural laws, such a gravity, have symmetries too A rock tossed upwards at an angle will follow a symmetric parabola A deep theorem, due to the mathematician Emmy Noether, explains how conservation laws such conservation of energy and momentum, which govern the motion of tossed rocks are a result of symmetries in the equations of physics.Crystals aren t alive, but animals are, and they have symmetries too, even though usually only approximate as noted above Consider the stripes of a tiger They are arranged, albeit rather irregularly, in a periodic sequence along the length of the animal s body literally from head to tail It turns out that this symmetry is a lot like the symmetry of ocean waves approaching a beach Periodic phenomena have deep mathematical generalizations harmonic analysis , in which group theory is of central importance Consider how combinations of different frequencies of sound waves are what constitute music Animal patterns such as tiger stripes result from waves of chemical densities in the liquid medium inside very young embryos, because they affect gene expression Alan Turing the early computer scientist who conceived Turing machines was apparently the first to suggest this, even before genes were actually understood This story is told in another chapter of Stewart s book Interesting treaty on symmetry