Asymmetry Through the Looking Glass

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Symmetry is overrated. In fact, according to physicist Frank Close, it doesn’t even exist. Beneath the apparent symmetry of the human body, New York’s Twin Towers, snowflakes and starfish, asymmetry is there, enforcing a universal unevenness necessary for existence. Without it, the cosmos itself would be locked in a kind of plasmatic paralysis, incapable of sustaining life. But to most people, symmetry is balance, equality, beauty and perfection. Scientists seek it in their data and work it into their theories. Religion embraces the symmetry of the Crucifix and the Star of David and shuns it in the deliberate flaws of Shinto temples. Architects build it into their blueprints, from the Pantheon to Yankee stadium.

But life, for all its harmony and balance, hinges on a disruption of symmetry, the slight edge of matter over anti-matter left over from the universe’s origin. Asymmetry through the looking glass is this hour on The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Frank Close, physicist and author of “Lucifer’s Legacy: The Meaning of Asymmetry.”