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The New Ambidextrous Universe: Symmetry and Asymmetry from Mirror Reflections to Superstrings: Third Revised Edition Paperback – July 26, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0486442440 ISBN-10: 0486442446 Edition: Third Edition, Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Third Edition, Revised edition (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486442446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486442440
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Martin Gardner was a renowned author who published over 70 books on subjects from science and math to poetry and religion. He also had a lifelong passion for magic tricks and puzzles. Well known for his mathematical games column in Scientific American and his "Trick of the Month" in Physics Teacher magazine, Gardner attracted a loyal following with his intelligence, wit, and imagination.

Martin Gardner: A Remembrance
The worldwide mathematical community was saddened by the death of Martin Gardner on May 22, 2010. Martin was 95 years old when he died, and had written 70 or 80 books during his long lifetime as an author. Martin's first Dover books were published in 1956 and 1957: Mathematics, Magic and Mystery, one of the first popular books on the intellectual excitement of mathematics to reach a wide audience, and Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, certainly one of the first popular books to cast a devastatingly skeptical eye on the claims of pseudoscience and the many guises in which the modern world has given rise to it. Both of these pioneering books are still in print with Dover today along with more than a dozen other titles of Martin's books. They run the gamut from his elementary Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing, which has been enjoyed by generations of younger readers since the 1980s, to the more demanding The New Ambidextrous Universe: Symmetry and Asymmetry from Mirror Reflections to Superstrings, which Dover published in its final revised form in 2005.

To those of us who have been associated with Dover for a long time, however, Martin was more than an author, albeit a remarkably popular and successful one. As a member of the small group of long-time advisors and consultants, which included NYU's Morris Kline in mathematics, Harvard's I. Bernard Cohen in the history of science, and MIT's J. P. Den Hartog in engineering, Martin's advice and editorial suggestions in the formative 1950s helped to define the Dover publishing program and give it the point of view which — despite many changes, new directions, and the consequences of evolution — continues to be operative today.

In the Author's Own Words:
"Politicians, real-estate agents, used-car salesmen, and advertising copy-writers are expected to stretch facts in self-serving directions, but scientists who falsify their results are regarded by their peers as committing an inexcusable crime. Yet the sad fact is that the history of science swarms with cases of outright fakery and instances of scientists who unconsciously distorted their work by seeing it through lenses of passionately held beliefs."

"A surprising proportion of mathematicians are accomplished musicians. Is it because music and mathematics share patterns that are beautiful?" — Martin Gardner


More About the Author

For 25 of his 95 years, Martin Gardner wrote 'Mathematical Games and Recreations', a monthly column for Scientific American magazine. These columns have inspired hundreds of thousands of readers to delve more deeply into the large world of mathematics. He has also made significant contributions to magic, philosophy, debunking pseudoscience, and children's literature. He has produced more than 60 books, including many best sellers, most of which are still in print. His Annotated Alice has sold more than a million copies. He continues to write a regular column for the Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Books like this are gueling to revise and update.
Dale Wood
I read a previous edition of this book and enjoyed it very much.
Toonfan
Gardner wrote the book to try to explain what that meant.
Roger Sweeny

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Worldreels on April 28, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every decade Gardner updates this book. The five new chapters in the 1990 edition, including material on twistors and superstrings, are well worth the price. What Gardner does best is frame the new theories within a historical perspective. For example, he says it is impossible not to compare string theory with Lord Kelvin's (W. Thompson) 1958 theory of vortex strings. Vortex string theory was fashionable for at least fifty years. Gardner shows the vortex string theory and the superstring theory to be kissing cousins: Lord Kelvin used perfect fluid to refer to the superstring quantum vacuum -- both referring to the same sub-space area. String theory speaks of vibrating frequencies of energy while vortex rings were also vibrating frequencies that gave the atoms different properties. Instead of quantum foam with jittering virtual particles, vortex theory had vortex sponges with billions of vortex motions whirling in all directions.
Gardner's account of Roger Penrose's twistor theory is short and excellent. Physicists have gotten tangled up trying to speak of deeper down events which are hidden from view due to their sub-Planck length size (10 to the minus 33rd power of a centimeter). Here it is pointed out that "on a sufficiently small scale the concept of a space-time point evaporates in the complex space of twistor theory." Twistor theory, like superstring theory, was merely trying to formulate how the submicroscopic particles come into being. Both theories consist of math and lack any experimental verification. To repeat, the author discusses these obtuse theories in a way that frames their overall direction of thought. Gardner appears to agree with Howard George who calls superstring theory a "recreational mathematical theology." The bottom line -- both twistor and string theory are philosophy -- not physics.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dale Wood on January 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I think that THE NEW AMBIDEXTROUS UNIVERSE (1990) is a wonderful book on symmetry and asymmetry in the worlds of everyday life, chemistry, physics, and unification theories. Everything in this book is noteworthy, and also up-to-date except for the last few chapters.
It is a very good updating of the previous (1978) edition, which concluded with many open questions in elementary particle physics that were resolved (and new questions raised) in 1978 - 1989.
It is high time for this book to be updated if Mr. Gardner can manage it (he is rather elderly; born in 1914), and a publisher will take a new edition. Books like this are gueling to revise and update.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on January 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm not going to say that I understand all of this. Most of it is way over my head, but after reading it, I can say that I understand more now than I did before. I'm planning on attacking it again in a couple years. Overall, however, Gardner does a good job of bring complicated scientific theory down to a plain English level by using diagrams and analogies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Worldreels on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every decade Gardner updates this book. The five new chapters in the 1990 edition, including material on twistors and superstrings, are well worth the price. What Gardner does best is frame the new theories within a historical perspective. For example, he says it is impossible not to compare string theory with Lord Kelvin's (W. Thompson) 1958 theory of vortex strings. Vortex string theory was fashionable for at least fifty years. Gardner shows the vortex string theory and the superstring theory to be kissing cousins: Lord Kelvin used perfect fluid to refer to the superstring quantum vacuum -- both referring to the same sub-space area. String theory speaks of vibrating frequencies of energy while vortex rings were also vibrating frequencies that gave the atoms different properties. Instead of quantum foam with jittering virtual particles, vortex theory had vortex sponges with billions of vortex motions whirling in all directions.
Gardner's account of Roger Penrose's twistor theory is short and excellent. Physicists have gotten tangled up trying to speak of deeper down events which are hidden from view due to their sub-Planck length size (10 to the minus 33rd power of a centimeter). Here it is pointed out that "on a sufficiently small scale the concept of a space-time point evaporates in the complex space of twistor theory." Twistor theory, like superstring theory, was merely trying to formulate how the submicroscopic particles come into being. Both theories consist of math and lack any experimental verification. To repeat, the author discusses these obtuse theories in a way that frames their overall direction of thought. Gardner appears to agree with Howard George who calls superstring theory a "recreational mathematical theology." The bottom line -- both twistor and string theory are philosophy -- not physics.
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I read a previous edition of this book and enjoyed it very much. This revised edition also did not disappoint. The book is written a lot like his old Scientific American columns -- there are nice illustrations and exercises (with answers) throughout. The explanations are very clear on topics ranging from symmetry (or the lack thereof), biology, higher dimensions, parity, time reversal, and ending with superstrings. A great read.
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