What We Are Reading Today: Creating Symmetry by Frank A. Farris

Updated 06 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Creating Symmetry by Frank A. Farris

  • This book describes how complex numbers unlock the mystery, and how they lead to the next steps on an engaging path to constructing waveforms

This lavishly illustrated book provides a hands-on, step-by-step introduction to the intriguing mathematics of symmetry. Instead of breaking up patterns into blocks — a sort of potato-stamp method — Frank A. Farris offers a completely new waveform approach that enables you to create an endless variety of rosettes, friezes, and wallpaper patterns: Dazzling art images where the beauty of nature meets the precision of mathematics.

Featuring more than 100 stunning color illustrations and requiring only a modest background in math, Creating Symmetry begins by addressing the enigma of a simple curve, whose curious symmetry seems unexplained by its formula. Farris describes how complex numbers unlock the mystery, and how they lead to the next steps on an engaging path to constructing waveforms. He explains how to devise waveforms for each of the 17 possible wallpaper types, and then guides you through a host of other fascinating topics in symmetry, such as color-reversing patterns, three-color patterns, polyhedral symmetry, and hyperbolic symmetry. 

Along the way, Farris demonstrates how to marry waveforms with photographic images to construct beautiful symmetry patterns as he gradually familiarizes you with more advanced mathematics, including group theory, functional analysis, and partial differential equations. As you progress through the book, you’ll learn how to create breathtaking art images of your own.


What We Are Reading Today: The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

Updated 17 June 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

  • The Dreamt Land weaves reportage, history, and memoir to confront the “golden state” myth in riveting fashion

California-style agriculture has created one of the most unequal societies on earth because extensive irrigation requires large corporations with deep pockets, says Mark Arax, author of The Dreamt Land.

The Dreamt Land weaves reportage, history, and memoir to confront the “golden state” myth in riveting fashion. 

“Arax is persistent and tough as he treks from desert to delta, mountain to valley. What he finds is hard earned, awe-inspiring, tragic and revelatory. In the end, his compassion for the land becomes an elegy to the dream that created California and now threatens to undo it,” said a review in goodreads.com. “It is a beautifully written book and one that lots of people ought to be required to read,” the review said.

Critic Gary Krist says in a review for The New York Times: “Granted, there are times when The Dreamt Land feels overstuffed and chaotically organized, as if Arax decided to include every relevant newspaper feature he’s ever proposed to an editor. But I suspect that few other journalists could have written a book as personal and authoritative.”