Today's Beautiful Gem: Some thoughts on
"Symmetry establishes a ridiculous and wonderful cousinship
between objects, phenomena and theories outwardly unrelated:
terrestrial magnetism, women's veils, polarised light,
natural selection, the theory of groups, invariants and
transformations, the work habits of bees in the hive, the
structure of space, vase designs, quantum physics, scarabs,
flower petals, X-ray interference patterns, cell division in
urchins, equilibrium positions of crystals, Romanesque cathedrals,
snowflakes, music, the theory of relativity." -- J. R. Newman.
"Cell and tissue, shell and bone, leaf and flower, are so many
portions of matter, and it is in obedience to the laws of physics
that their particles have been moved, moulded, and conformed.
They are no exceptions to the rule that `God always geometrises'."
-- d'Arcy Wentworth Thompson.
"God, Thou great symmetry,
Who put a biting lust in me
From whence my sorrows spring,
For all the frittered days
That I have spent in shapeless ways
Give me one perfect thing." -- Anna Wickham.
Note: Dr Newman is one of the foremost mathematicians of this century.
His four-volume book `The World of Mathematics' (?) is an extremely
useful introduction to the uninitiated on the beauty of mathematics.
The above passage was taken in his introduction to the article on
symmetry by Hermann Weyl. D'Arcy Thompson is perhaps the last
Leonardo da Vinci. His book `On Growth and Form', available from
Dover Books, is a superb one not only for its scientific content
(application of mathematical ideas to natural phenomena), but also
for its excellent English. That is one of the ten books I would
take with me if I am marooned on a lonely island! Anna Wickham is
Om s'aantih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao