For Immediate Release
Date Mailed: March 22, 1995
(Washington, DC) . . . . . Mathematics & Symmetry is the theme of
Mathematics Awareness Week 1995 which will be observed nationwide
from April 23 - 29. Symmetry is a mathematical concept used for
analysis, classification, making predictions through modeling, and
for understanding the structures of all kinds of objects -- both in
mathematics and in the physical world.
Symmetry is all around us. It is apparent in everyday objects ---
buildings, floor and wall tiles, gears, and even in automobile
hub-caps. Symmetry is visible in many natural forms --- in the
bilateral symmetry of the human form, in the rotational and
kaleidoscopic symmetry of blossoms, in the sinuous spiral symmetry
of vines and shells, and in the translation symmetry of honeycombs
and fish scales.
Mathematicians refer to symmetry as "invariance under
transformation." Symmetry is a central theme of mathematics
because transformations are a primary object of mathematical study.
Symmetry is a reason why many things work. For example, gears,
wheels and turbines function because of the symmetrical nature of
their moving parts. Many manufactured forms are made up of
identical parts, allowing for efficiency in production, and are
often put together in symmetric ways.
Symmetry is central to crystallography, the cataloguing of the
three-dimensional configurations into which the atoms of many
substances arrange themselves. The symmetries of crystals are
described in terms of the rotations and reflections which leave a
particular structure invariant, either for aesthetic or structural
Mathematics & Symmetry is visually depicted on the 1995 Mathematics
Awareness Week colored poster and postcards in striking images of
symmetric icons and quilt patterns created for Mathematics
Awareness Week 1995 by Marty Golubitsky and Mike Field, two
mathematicians at the University of Houston.
For the first time, this year's Mathematics Awareness Week
materials, including visuals, are available electronically. There
is even an electronic discussion area where individuals can share
information about their various activities for the week.
Celebrations of Mathematics Awareness Week will feature
proclamations from many of the nation's governors, legislators, and
mayors. Colleges and universities across the country have planned
competitions, exhibits, demonstrations, lectures and other events
to mark the week. In New Jersey alone, for example, 200 activities
are planned for April as part of that state's marking of
Mathematics Awareness Week.
Mathematics Awareness Week is coordinated by the Joint Policy Board
for Mathematics which represents three national mathematics
organizations, the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical
Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied
Mathematics. Additional financial support is provided by the U.S.
Army Research Office; Oxford University Press, with offices in New
York and Oxford, UK; and Springer-Verlag, publishers of Textbooks
in Mathematical Sciences (TIMS), a new undergraduate text series.
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