Fearful Symmetry (Is God a Geometer)
August 3, 2018
When we decided to write a sequel to Does God Play Dice?, we knew it was going to be a hard act to follow. Chaos, the subject of that book, was – and still is – one of the major growth areas of scientific research, where the frontiers of mathematics and physics collide; its applications range from the transmission of epidemics to the orbital motion of Pluto. Moreover, it rides on the back of a philosophical paradox: how can deterministic mathematical models produce ran- dom behaviour? You can get a lot of mileage out of a philosophical paradox. So, instead of following the act, we decided to precede it. Logically (but not chronologically) Fearful Symmetry: Is God a Geometer? comes before its predecessor: it’s what movie-makers call a prequel. Does God Minus One. It’s about patterns, rather than their absence. The way we’ve written it, it’s about the area in which we do research, which isn’t of itself a major global movement. However, as the writing of the book progressed, it became our private picture of a global movement far vaster than chaos, one that’s been around for centuries: the search for mathematical explanations of nature’s regu- larities. Chaos, of course, is really part of that enterprise too: it extracts new regularities from apparent disorder.
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