Finding Moonshine

Marcus du Sautoy

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, 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. Marcus du Sautoy constantly strives to push his own boundaries to find ways in which to share the excitement of mathematics with a broader audience; this book charts his own personal quest to master one of the most innate and intangible concepts, and to demonstrate the intricacy and beauty of the world around us.

Reviews of Finding Moonshine

  • ‘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