Tendency Towards Symmetry in Fundamental Physical Structures

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Abstract

THE symmetry properties hitherto used in physics mainly relate to existing geometrical symmetry or formal mathematical equivalence. Less attention has been paid to the one-way tendency towards higher symmetry in three-dimensional space, which marks many isolated processes ending in a stable end state. The fact that equilibrium states often possess elements of spatial symmetry or regularity (for example, bubbles, crystals, some atoms, molecules, etc.) may at first sight appear trivial. Yet much is to be gained if geometrical relations such as three-dimensional symmetry and asymmetry can be substituted for physical quantities such as 'structural potential energy', since they are simpler, more general, and closer to what is observed.

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WHYTE, L. Tendency Towards Symmetry in Fundamental Physical Structures. Nature 163, 762–763 (1949) doi:10.1038/163762a0

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