Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £27.49

Buy Now for £27.49

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

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

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Michael Hanrahan
  • Michael Hanrahan
  • 22-01-20

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.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David
  • David
  • 16-01-19

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for John Coppolella
  • John Coppolella
  • 13-03-19

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Michael
  • Michael
  • 16-01-20

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.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for James S.
  • James S.
  • 13-10-21

One bad chapter, otherwise deeply worthwhile

If you've been searching for a somewhat mathematically rigorous book on the history and science of group theory, this is the best option I've come across so far.

The audible was almost ruined by the verbatim narration of permutation tables during a large part of one chapter. If the narrators of these types of books were to ever be allowed - or motivated - to avoid verbatim narrations like this, for sections that could otherwise be summarily explained in a way that got the point across to the listener, audiobooks could catch on in rigorous science and engineering disciplines.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mo Rutherford
  • Mo Rutherford
  • 03-02-21

Does not translate over to audio very well

An excellent book. However this is one that should be red with a pencil paper in hand and therefore does not translate over to audio very well