Beyond Beauty: The Predictive Power of Symmetry
Moderator: John Hockenberry
Participants: Robbert Dijkgraaf, David Gross, Alan Lightman, and Maria Sporopulu
Date: Saturday, June 4, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.
From a bee’s hexagonal honeycomb to the elliptical paths of planets, symmetry has long been recognized as a vital quality of nature. Einstein saw symmetry hidden in the fabric of space and time. The brilliant Emmy Noether proved that symmetry is the mathematical flower of deeply rooted physical law. And today’s theorists are pursuing an even more exotic symmetry that, mathematically speaking, could be nature’s final fundamental symmetry: supersymmetry. Join some of the world’s preeminent scientists to explore the core role symmetry plays in our unraveling of nature’s deepest secrets—and catch a glimpse of profoundly important symmetries that may be awaiting us just over the horizon. This discussion will include Institute for Advanced Study Director Robbert Dijkgraaf, Nobel Laureate and Member (1977–78, 1973–74) in the School of Natural Sciences David Gross, MIT physicist and writer Alan Lightman, and CERN physicist Maria Sporopulu.
SALON: The Beauty of Balance
Moderator: Robbert Dijkgraaf
Participants: Paola Antonelli, Annabelle Selldorf
Date: Sunday, June 5, 2016 at 4pm
Why are we drawn to symmetry? Because it provides order in a seemingly chaotic world? Because our brains are the product of the very same laws that yield the flower, the snowflake and the solar system? Because evolution selects for structures with symmetry? In this Salon, we will ask an interdisciplinary gathering of artists and scientists to explore the pervasiveness of symmetry throughout our study and appreciation of the natural world.