Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature by Marcus du Sautoy

Filed under:Art,History — posted by Randolph on February 22, 2014 @ 7:55 pm

Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature
by Marcus du Sautoy

Symmetry has two points of focus. One is the symmetry in nature and its relationship to mathematics. Second is the history of mathematical symmetry and the people behind the exploration.

The mathematics is expressed in simple terms, the only equations are simple that anyone can recognize, a few diagrams, and the digits of large numbers. Much is in the descriptions of bizarre objects in muti-, as in more than 20, dimensional space. The author describes them in terms of their numbers of symmetry, no imagery is required.

The main issues with the book are it can be redundant and slow. I felt some of the historical stories on people should have been left out or shortened.

On the positive side, it flows well and is easy to read. It does a good job of tying different areas of math together, and it does mention by name a few more complex topics as he covers them. I think the book would have done better by providing more math, since that was the focus of the book, it feels like an important part was omitted.

If you have an interest in math, you will probably find the book of interest. Otherwise I’d pass it up.

Infantry Attacks by Erwin Rommel

Filed under:History — posted by Randolph on February 6, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

Infantry Attacks by Erwin Rommel

This is a collection of after-action reports more than a treatise on military tactics or a history of WWI or of Rommel. As such, it is interesting and insightful. It characterizes the conditions of WWI and gives a good taste of what the war may have been like, differing from the visions we have as provided by Hollywood.

Although sometimes billed as a bio of Rommel, it does nothing to portray his life. It does show is genius and daring on the battlefield. It does portray him as a leader, demonstrating how he can act in adversity, how he can make successful command decisions on impulse. How he managed to develop units that outperform all others.

I wish it went into more personal detail. It isn’t clear whether he developed good men, found them, or got them by chance. The book is an accurate military portrayal of events, but doesn’t discuss the interpersonal relationships developed, how he inspired his men, or gained the respect of his superiors.

I can recommend this for people interested in military history, or in Rommel himself. There are better works on World War I.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace