“Symmetry and the Monster” by Mark Ronan (Oxford, 2007)
Finished reading on October 29, 2012
Such a great book.
I think that almost every subject deserves a chance. And mathematics is actually at least in my top five favourite subjects to read about… although since astronomy, physics, history of science and geology are the top four, maths rarely gets a chance.
“Symmetry and the Monster” is, as the title suggests, about symmetry and a mathematical group called the Monster. It tells the story of the latter’s discovery and does it so well that the book seems to be almost a mathematical detective story.
Although I must warn you, it contains mathematics, and I believe I’ll have to return to the book at least once more to gain even a little understanding of what the Monster means to mathematicians.
It had a lot of funny/interesting stories or anecdotes incorporated and also a little about some of the mathematicians who worked on group theory and the Monster, (Galois, Lie and Conway for example).
I liked it, because it made me want to dive into group theory, although I imagine it as a stormy sea and even in real life I’m not too good at swimming, thus it seems like something I might do only with a support-group, life-vests and when there are bigger dangers on land than in the sea… But it’s still a thought…
It was a great read, but not something I’d recommend for light reading, choose a popular physics book instead!