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The Structure and Properties of Mildly-broken Symmetries:

consequences in Arts, Aesthetics, Music, Molecular Biology,

Zoology, Materials, Physics, Maths, Law and Psychology

‘Mildly broken symmetry’ appears much less understood

and studied compared to symmetry itself. The terminologies

symmetry and asymmetry grossly oversimplify reality and the

choice of ‘mildly broke or near symmetry’ was purposefully

chosen to make this distinction from symmetry and asymmetry.

Quantifying near-symmetry is a challenge and has purposefully

been chosen as the issue to be addressed in the first workshop

in a series of three planned during 2017/18.

The first workshop

Quantifying Near-symmetry

workshop takes

place on 4 - 5 October 2017 and will consider how can one

characterise (including mathematically) near-symmetrical

structures. Unlike symmetry, ‘near perfect’ symmetry (rephrased

from herein as ‘mildly broken symmetry’) has not been well

studied. Whilst there are mathematical problems (such as the

fact that the surface of spheres cannot be symmetrically tiled

with identical shapes) the aim will be to seek, test and quantify

the concept of ‘mildly broken symmetry’ across all disciplines

because our attraction to ‘near perfect’ symmetry is ubiquitous.

In particular the workshop may enquire whether a general

perturbation approach can be applied to underlying symmetries

of a base original model in order a better understanding mildly

broken symmetry.

A number of external speakers are confirmed for October

including: Professor Frank Close, (Physics, Oxford); Professor

Ard Louis (Physics, Oxford); Professor Amanda Nichols

(Chemistry, Oklahoma); Professor Myron Penner (Philosophy,

Trinity Western); Dr Iain McGilchrist (Psychiatry, Oxford);

Professor Chris McManus (Psychology, UCL); Professor

Jonathan Heddle (Biotechnology, Krakow); Professor Alan

Goriely (Maths, Oxford).

For further information contact Professor Tom McLeish

t.c.b.mcleish@durham.ac.uk

or Dr Markus Hausmann

markus.hausmann@durham.ac.uk .

The second workshop

Human Perception of Near-symmetry

will explore why near symmetrical structures are found to be

attractive? Humans have a predisposition towards symmetry and

this is likely to be neurologically controlled (with the left side of

the brain searching for symmetry whilst the right side searches

for broken symmetry). Whilst one reason for our attraction to

symmetry is related to reduced information processing time

and thus energy expenditure excessive symmetry would we not

perceive absolute symmetry as disturbing? On the other hand

excessively broken symmetry would be perceived as an outward

indicator of a lack of fitness.

Workshop three,

Near-symmetry, Information, Understanding

& Applications

will investigate whether understanding of

theoretical physics, biology, economics, musics etc. can be

improved by enriching the existing discussion of symmetry with

an analysis of mildly-broken symmetry. Is mildly-broken the

subtle norm?

Structure and Symmetry