The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved

How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry
Narrated by: Tom Parks
Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (22 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

What do Bach's compositions, Rubik's Cube, the way we choose our mates, and the physics of subatomic particles have in common? All are governed by the laws of symmetry, which elegantly unify scientific and artistic principles. Yet the mathematical language of symmetry - known as group theory - did not emerge from the study of symmetry at all, but from an equation that couldn't be solved.

For thousands of years mathematicians solved progressively more difficult algebraic equations, until they encountered the quintic equation, which resisted solution for three centuries. Working independently, two great prodigies ultimately proved that the quintic cannot be solved by a simple formula. These geniuses, a Norwegian named Niels Henrik Abel and a romantic Frenchman named Évariste Galois, both died tragically young. Their incredible labor, however, produced the origins of group theory.

The first extensive, popular account of the mathematics of symmetry and order, The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved is told not through abstract formulas but in a beautifully written and dramatic account of the lives and work of some of the greatest and most intriguing mathematicians in history.

©2005 Mario Livio. (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved

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Historical Perspective Appreciated

I was very enrapt in the history and personal perspective of this book, as well as the detailed explanation of group theory and how it evolved. Thanks for a wonderful 12 hours of listening.

3 people found this helpful

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Sad stories, complex math, good read

I needed to get a copy of the book to see some of the patterns made by tables. but really neat book if you are comfortable with some hard ideas in math.

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Enlightening geniuses found here

I am so excited inspired by your book. Thank you for introducing and enlightening me on these wonderful people buried in the sands of time.

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4/5

I enjoyed most of this, and struggled through some of the technical parts. I liked the stuff about symmetry, and the history. I still don't really understand what group theory actually is. Perhaps that's my fault, not the book's. The narrator was excellent.

1 person found this helpful