[NetBehaviour] symmetry - science, art and nature

neil jenkins neil at furtherfield.org
Sat Apr 21 01:52:18 CEST 2007

tricky to transpose, but here goes..

early neolithic sculptures in regular forms, cognitive recognition of  
symmmetric forms (by animals/humans and artists), cuniform, babylonian  
maths and greek geometry, methods for solving (and working out)  
quadratic and cubic equations (respectively) - (method and conic  
sections), algebra in place of derived solution tables, mathematical  
transformations and group theory (*no transformation is part of the  
subset of symmetrical transformations, or 'operations' - nothing is  
something.. ), the alhambra, bell ringing, the lack of a solution for  
quintic equations and 'atoms' of symmetry - shapes divided by shapes,  
indivisible symmetries

phew.. i won't start on the last 20 minutes and misquote einstein :)

On 19 Apr 2007, at 23:22, @-_q @@ wrote:

> neil, if you go,
> could you write just a little bit of what you heard there?
> (pleasepleaseplease)
> neil jenkins escribió:
>> http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rmhttp/downloadtrial/radio4/inourtime/ 
>> inourtime_20070419-0900_40_st.mp3
>> -->
>> Today we will be discussing symmetry, from the most perfect forms in  
>> nature, like the snowflake and the butterfly, to our perceptions of  
>> beauty in the human face. There's symmetry too in most of the laws  
>> that govern our physical world.
>> The Greek philosopher Aristotle described symmetry as one of the  
>> greatest forms of beauty to be found in the mathematical sciences,  
>> while the French poet Paul Valery went further, declaring; “The  
>> universe is built on a plan, the profound symmetry of which is  
>> somehow present in the inner structure of our intellect”.
>> The story of symmetry tracks an extraordinary shift from its role as  
>> an aesthetic model - found in the tiles in the Alhambra and Bach's  
>> compositions - to becoming a key tool to understanding how the  
>> physical world works. It provides a major breakthrough in mathematics  
>> with the development of group theory in the 19th century. And it is  
>> the unexpected breakdown of symmetry at sub-atomic level that is so  
>> tantalising for contemporary quantum physicists.
>> So why is symmetry so prevalent and appealing in both art and nature?  
>> How does symmetry enable us to grapple with monstrous numbers? And  
>> how might symmetry contribute to the elusive Theory of Everything?
>> Contributors
>> Fay Dowker, Reader in Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London
>> Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford
>> Ian Stewart, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick
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