Friday, October 4, 2019

Broken Symmetry

photo: Roberta F.
Symmetry breaking is a concept in physics and if you consult Wikipedia is responsible for pattern formation. All well and good, even subatomic particles have to go one way or the other, taking a turn in the road which creates a new fate. Broken Symmetry is the name of a brewery in Bethel, Connecticut, but it’s also a concept that might be used to describe the process by which the seeming order and beauty of nature is fractured. For instance one could say that Quantum mechanics breaks the seamless universe of Newtonian physics. Lots of people marvel at things like Pi and Kantian universals that are discovered in nature, but then new paradigms appear which change long cherished views. Galileo was tried by the Inquisition for his heliocentrism. The fervency with which people hold on to certain notions is inversely proportionate to the fragility of the assumptions and foundations on which they are built. This, in fact, may account for the insularity of many fundamentalist sects, which seek to protect their ways of life from outside influences. Still if you are looking for certainty, it’s unlikely that any scientific precept will ever unseat 1+1=2, that black is the absence of color or that when you take a bite out of an apple you break its symmetry.

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