"Literary craze for maths and maps" by Vanessa Thorpe. The Search for the Sigma Code has a dense plot and relies on another imaginary narrator (not a monk this time, but) a boy called Enjil. If you have ever wondered why any prime number is greater than three will, when raised to the sixth power, leave a remainder of one when divided by nine, you will be at home with this book. -- THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY - 13 September 1998
Cecil Balmond's mediation on the number 9 is an enchanting tale that reveals a mystery at the center of unexpected arithmetic operations. In a world in which the mathematical has long since stopped being a simple symbol of cosmic order to become synonymous with the prosaic and instrumental, Balmond's work discloses the resonance of abstract, formal revelations with human truths. Number 9 is a work of pataphysical numerology that recovers the potential of numbers to be truly significant. -- Book Review by Dr Alberto Perez-Gomez, Professor History of Architecture, McGill University
Congratulations on an intriguing and enchanting work! -- Reader's comment from Boston - 16 June 1998
Enjil is a young mathematician who must present a thesis to the Elders to win the title of Master. While searching for a topic, his muse poses a question: What is the fixed point in the wind? Balmond, in a parallel text, explains the Sigma Code and starts to apply it to solve the riddle. As the tale of Enjil's search unfolds, so the use of the Sigma Code unlocks a hidden code beneath numbers, with startling results.
Like any detective story, as the mystery deepens so the clues begin to build. Number 9 is the key; it is behind every number and calculation, sometimes disappearing like a ghost and sometimes having a powerful effect. Diagrams, many beautiful and intricate, are used to demonstrate even more dramatically the nature of numbers, much like people, Enjil argues, numbers have a secret nature. Underneath a mantra turns. Hidden by all the permutations of arithmetic the numbers of the code spin quietly, orbiting in a concealed universe.
And like every good mystery, this book is impossible to put down until the riddle has been solved, a solution which is perhaps more of a beginning than an end.Highly recommended. -- Independent review for Ove Arup and Partners by Andrea Beddard - September 1998
First of allow me to congratulate you on a most inspiring book ... and thank you... for the book you have wrote. -- Reader from Haifa, Israel - 13 October 1998
Thanks so much for the wonderful book - mysterious and lucid and a great telling of this fantastic adventure. -- Reader's comment from architect at New Haven - September 1998
What do the following Architects, and their projects, have in common? The late Jim Stirling, Rem Koolhaas, Enrico Miralles, Ratael Money, Daniel Liebeskind, Ben van Berkel and Alvaro Siza? The answer is that they all called Cecil Balmond of Ove Arup & Partners in London - the author of this book... He is a latterday alchemist of shape, making anything the Architect desires appear, like a puff of smoke, from his algorithmic crucible.
Balmond canonises the compulsion to err, first proposed by Robert Venturi as the 'difficult whole'. He sanctifies with the benison of Number, laying them impartially upon one and all. His book is the tip of the iceberg (or maybe volcano is a truer metaphor) of his knowledge. It will undoubtedly be dangerous for Architects to read, for it will encourage them to believe that any form will do. John Outram is an Architect. -- RIBA - June 1998 Reviewed by John Outram for the Royal Institute of British Architects Journal
Charming, stimulating and thought-provoking. -- Review in Accounting and Business Nov/Dec 1998
I enjoyed the discovery and the search for patterns I did not know existed. I set out on my own investigations into primes, squares, Pythagorean triangles, continued fractions etc. Some of it was difficult, other parts easy and fun. Part of the fun bit was looking into our decimal set and finding a strange set of close relationships and reversals between the integers 1-9, with Number 9 acting in a key role. I tested my findings on a few learned friends and after a favourable reaction from them decided to write a book ... the first part is written as a puzzle - one has to unravel and solve the code and part 2 covers examples of how that code works in various mathematical constructions. I hope the book travels far and entertains and empowers readers to approach numbers in a new way. -- Feature in the Ove Arup Journal
In "Nine Fixed Points in the Wind", internationally renowned structural engineer Cecil Balmond travels into a semi-mystical world to unlock a secret of numbers that has never been told. Through the eyes of Enjil, the boy mathematician, he re-examines the arithmetic of his childhood and discovers behind it a remarkable new mathematical structure that we can all appreciate -yet that will intrigue scientists and mathematicians. The worlds of Enjil and that of the reader travel in parallel. As Enjil is challenged by a spirit to solve the riddle, "What is the fixed point of the wind?", the reader is introduced to strange coincidences in the world of numbers that appear to be predescribed in myth, legend and religion across the world's history. The key seems to be the number nine. On a journey of discovery, Enjil leads us deeper into an inner world in search of the solution. It describes a form - at first linear - then circular - until finally a beautifully spiralling mandala is revealed that links all the coincidences in a single structure and opens a gateway to discoveries beyond.
Cecil Balmond is a man at the top of his profession making the most flamboyant ideas of the leading avant garde architects work. His research into form provokes new possibilities in architecture. Through his profession, he has gained a remarkable perception that is uniquely attuned to understanding the structures required within buildings at the cutting edge of contemporary architecture. Recently he chanced to rethink the arithmetic we all use. The results will delight all of us who remember struggling to learn our tables by rote. It is a new theorem of hidden numbers - but it is so simple.