In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
As we wander through this world, trying our best to make sense of it, as we try to wrap our little heads around quantum theory and modern physics, we are called home by the concept of symmetry. For truly symmetry provides a key insight into the workings of the physical world – and consequently into our spiritual and mental worlds (the leap from the physical to the spiritual is no leap at all). The power and elegance of symmetry as the underpinnings of the laws of physics is wonderfully illuminated by Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe by Leon Lederman and Christopher T. Hill, a 2004 science book for the moderately educated (or moderately ignorant but still curious) reader.
The great conceptual developments in modern physics begin with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and with Noether’s Theorem, which in effect states that the Laws of Physics are themselves – almost by definition – symmetrical. The universality of the Laws of Physics through time and space is a manifestation of symmetry. Symmetry as an underlying principle organizes the universe.
The concept of symmetry, which we apparently inherit genetically as a unit (an example of intelligent design), simplifies physics. Symmetry imposes it’s imprint upon the entire universe. How did Blake call it? “Fearful symmetry”? Well, it certainly is a powerful concept.
On the physical plane, in the two dimensions of space, we can see the power of symmetry. We can “see” and enjoy the beauty of symmetry through a sort of identification or reverberation. Symmetrical objects appeal to us. Symmetry is aesthetically pleasing. We’re just built that way.