‘Symmetry and Beauty’ Equates Math With Art

Jennifer Elbe

Math, symmetry, quadratic equations and beauty were found under one roof during the Science Lecture Series’ first presentation.
The lecture was held Feb. 23, in the Santa Barbara building before a standing room only crowd. GCC’s Sid Kolpas, a professor of mathematics, introduced Tom Voden, a math professor at Glendale. Voden spoke on the group theory in mathematics, a description of symmetry and beauty.

Voden holds both a master’s and doctorate degree from UC San Diego. He spoke on concepts of mathmatics, and the applications. To put this into layman’s terms it’s the math behind beauty.

“Art and science are more alike than different,” said Voden. “Our language for describing symmetry allows us to see truths about nature we haven’t seen before.”

Voden spoke of Evariste Galois, a French math genius who lived from 1811 to 1832, changed the whole game with simple rearrangement or permutation of the set of numbers.

The act of simple shuffling, changing of order. It is what makes, (mg)h = mh(g), equaling the same solution. Voden demonstrated the theory with the visual aid of a cardboard square. With every rotation and flip the corners would realign themselves thus providing a visual example of how (mg)h = (mh)g.

What makes this relatable to everyday users who aren’t mathematicians, is what it will allow the individual to do. With an iPhone application a person can solve a Rubix cube in just a few strategic moves. While the application is at best a cute little trick, it does successfully demonstrate how wide spread and long reaching Galois’ theories are.

The lecture showed how music, art and math are more closely related than previously believed. Frédéric Chopin demonstrated this with the use musical notes and rhythm. This point was illustrated by the transposition and inversions of a 12-tone harmony. The notes would reset themselves once the end was reached. This is similar to the way time resets itself going from noon or midnight to one in the morning or in the afternoon.

In the closing remarks of the lecture Voden quoted Aristotle, “The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.”

The next lecture in the series will be held on March 23. It will feature Professor Rick Guglielmino of the physics department.