Tuesday 11th June – Symmetry – 5-6.30pm @ CTVR

The next Engineering Fictions will take place on Tuesday June 11th at CTVR, in the Seminar Room of Dunlop Oriel House. This weeks session will be catalyzed by Eamonn Dillion through the topic of Symmetry. Read on below:


The laws of Nature are unerringly symmetrical. They do not have preferences for particular times, places and directions. Einstein elevated this central requirement for the aforesaid laws of Nature to satisfy: that they appear the same to all observers in the Universe, no matter how they are moving or where they are located. How, then, do we reconcile the phenomenon of symmetry breaking? The outcomes of the laws of Nature do not have to possess the same symmetries as the laws themselves. It is possible to have  a small number of simple symmetrical laws yet manifesting complex asymmetrical states and structures.

Emmy Noether’s theorem (b. 1882 – d. 1935), which she proved in 1915, says that there is a direct correspondence between a symmetry of nature and the conservation of a quantity. The most famous conservation law in physics is probably conservation of energy: you cannot create or destroy energy, simply transform it from one type to another.”

In architecture, the Renaissance style emphasised geometry, symmetry and proportion since the architects believed that “Man is the measure of all things.” They believed that man was made in the image of God, so it was believed the proportions exemplified in the human form would reflect a divine and cosmic order like the ‘Vitruvius man’ (See Leanardo da Vinci’s image, above)

In biology we see symmetry in plant structures (fractal, self-similar, symmetrical shapes, at different scales). In contradistinction, handedness (being right or left handed) is an asymmetry in skill development in people and animals. There are two different types of amino acids as of all organic molecules-called “left-handed” and “right-handed.” The difference between them is the mirror-symmetry between their three dimensional structures, which is similar to that of a person’s right and left hands.

The session will kick off at 5pm, there’ll be discussion, opening out the complexities of the topic as per usual, and writing. Bring with you whatever writing materials you may require, and as always feel free to invite a friend or food or both.  Also, this is to be the penultimate session of the ‘season’, so if you’ve been curious up to now but haven’t quite made it to one of the sessions, I encourage you most wholeheartedly to come along!

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