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, 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.

Marcus du Sautoy strives constantly 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

  • ‘Marcus Du Sautoy knows how to tell a story, and, even more important, how to make difficult ideas palatable and entertaining. He is never condescending and is always true to the spirit of his subject. He is a living refutation of Hardy’s snobbish view that popularization is ‘work for second rate minds’.’ Sunday Telegraph

    ‘Marvellous…rich (and) readable.’ The Guardian

    ‘…told with the narrative flair and storyteller’s sense of detail…one of the few popular first hand accounts from the frontiers of modern mathematics.’ The Independent

    ‘Marcus du Sautoy really is a marvellous writer…With infectious enthusiasm and passion, du Sautoy describes this millennia-old quest…with his wonderfully lucid descriptions and a plethora of well-chosen figures, he succeeds in the task of communicating the theories to specialists and non-specialists alike…He interweaves the grand over-arching narrative with his own research for patterns, describing both its frustrating stumbling blocks and the magical thrill of discovery. It makes for a truly personal, inspiring and hugely entertaining read.’ Focus Magazine

    Praise for Marcus du Sautoy and ‘The Music of the Primes’:

    ‘Du Sautoy is a contagious enthusiast, a populist with a staunch faith in the public’s intelligence…he has uncovered a wealth of intriguing anecdotes that he has woven into a compelling narrative.’ Observer

    ‘He laces the ideas with history, anecdote and personalia – an entertaining mix that renders an austere subject palatable…valiant and ingenious…Even those with a mathematical allergy can enjoy du Sautoy’s depictions of his cast of characters.’ The Times

    ‘He brings hugely enjoyable writing, full of zest and passion, to the most fundamental questions in the pursuit of true knowledge.’ Sunday Times

    ‘A mesmerising journey into the world of mathematics and its mysteries.’ Daily Mail

    ‘A brilliant storyteller.’ Independent