The Importance of Symmetry

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Offline thedoc

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The Importance of Symmetry
« on: 06/11/2015 10:58:16 »
Does symmetry lie at the route of all modern theories?

Read the article then tell us what you think...
« Last Edit: 06/11/2015 10:58:16 by _system »


Offline chiralSPO

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Re: The Importance of Symmetry
« Reply #1 on: 06/11/2015 16:29:32 »
Symmetry group theory (both point groups and space groups) is very useful in chemistry. Many of the properties of a compound has to do with the symmetry of the molecule or crystal structure of the substance. For instance, it can determine the way the molecules interact with light (among other things, determining the color of the compound), the melting/boiling points, and even the chemical reactivity.

I don't know if symmetry is truly a fundamental aspect of the universe, or if it is more that it is fundamental to how we think and construct theories. When seeking the simplest way of describing the world, being able to identify equivalency and take advantage of it is crucial.

For example, if one wanted to describe a regular (equilateral) hexagon in 3D space, the most obvious way would be to give the coordinates of each of the vertices (which would end up being 18 numbers). But because we know that it is a regular hexagon, we can describe any size and orientation uniquely by defining only 3 of the vertices (only 9 numbers). And if the position and orientation of the hexagon don't matter for what we care about, we only need one number to describe the hexagon (it's size), as long as we know it is regular.