Beauty and Symmetry

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Beauty and Symmetry

Postby Ganesh H Shankar » Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:16 pm

Dec 2011, Bharatpur

A few of us, the CNPians, returned to room late in the evening on that cold winter day and sat around a campfire at our place of stay at Bharatpur. As usual the discussions turned to a topic of our interest in photography.

What is beauty?

Conversations started as expected - "beauty is subjective", "it can't be defined" etc,. It was a very spirited discussion (pun intended!). No one knew how to precisely define beauty, but for Shankar Kiragi!!

He kind of said (Shankar, correct me if I am wrong),

Beautiful things always exhibit symmetry, balance in structure, proportion, color balance etc. Some of us did not agree with him since we (let me speak for myself) felt such a definition was very closed and restrictive. A few of us argued vehemently with Shankar. The real beauty was at the end Shankar declared:

"you people may say whatever you like but I know what beauty is"!!

I just loved the conviction and clarity he had in his mind about this (I think) contentious topic.

7 years later, during past few months, I came across many discussions on Nature of Reality wherein several eminent nobel laureates seem to exactly echo what Shankar had told us then!! Symmetry, proportion, balance and conservation are the central theme that runs in nature of the Nature!! Some of the eminent scientists who are on their life's mission to unravel the mysteries of nature made it a point to look for theories with better symmetry and hence the beauty! When we don't have experimental evidence to understand how some aspects of nature works these nobel laureates seem to rely on the beauty/symmetry of the proposed hypothesis as a measure of its probable correctness!! Let me share a few of them here. The speakers in these talks are nobel laureates who dedicated their life to unravel the mysteries of nature.

Steven Weinberg

Frank Wilczek

David Gross and others. Listen to David Gross on the right (~14:19), he says "symmetry first"!

Here in CNP, in past we did have some image posts and discussions around symmetry/balance etc. For example here is one by Vipin, posted long ago.

image_id: 5728
(c) Vipin Baliga

I am very happy to note that we did then recognize nature's imperfect symmetry (click on the thumbnail above to read the discussion) which made the above image more 'beautiful'. Folks in the panel in 3rd video above make a very similar observation (around ~36:30)!!

I think, that small(?) part of the nature which breaks the symmetry gently is very mysterious! Or in other words

symmetry + "some mystery" = Nature?

What in nature causes that mystery? Is that a mystery which we can't understand?

Only symmetry is what we can comprehend and our theories which are devoid of these mysteries are only approximations of phenomenons in Nature?

What if we had three eyes instead of two? Would our notion of symmetry/beauty have changed then?

That said, please enjoy playing this below video:

Listen to the line around ~2:11.

It is very interesting to read

Fractal computer analysis section in Jackson Pollock's Wiki Page.

Let me end this with a question

Beauty of Nature - What can we say?
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

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Re: Beauty and Symmetry

Postby Shankar Kiragi » Tue Feb 19, 2019 10:07 pm

Pleased to see this topic. It was a passionate discussion we had on one of the cold December evenings in Bharatpur.

I patiently listened to all videos you shared. There is deep science (not philosophy :) ) in creating the beauty in nature.
David Gross’s video gives several examples and they are very apt. Steven and Frank convinced that symmetry in nature brings out eternal beauty.

I do not want to touch upon nature objects here to be cautious which needs lot of explanation, but I can take N number of man-made objects as an example where beauty can be created adopting the right size (as per usage), right shape with symmetry and proportionately created/attached parts of that subject.

It’s my instinct whenever I see some object I immediately look at shape, symmetry and proportions in it. In majority cases simple objects have symmetry, for example circle or sphere, sphere has infinite symmetry in it.

Like Nobel laureates say nature evolve over several thousand years based on the laws of physics and universe and in the process nature and natural objects adopt symmetry. Who taught honey bees to build hexagonal cells, why not square or octagon cells? Its nature dictated shape and size.

For a coffee cup to look good, it should be shaped with symmetry along with right size of handle, it should be rightly (proportionately) sized to match the cup size.

Over building (or under building) your muscles in hands and thigh/legs will lead disproportionate diminished beauty.

Some of the car logos (even luxury brands BMW, Merc) on the front and back of a car are disproportionate in my opinion.

Cars with way bigger (or way smaller) headlights do not look beautiful.

Making bigger smart phones than a hand can hold does not look beautiful when you hold against your ear.

For a house to look beautiful (from outside) doors and windows are to be made proportionate to the wall size. House plan adopt symmetry.

Very few artists around the world influence their art work based on nature objects and pattern.

This topic of “beauty in nature” way bigger than one can explain in one session.
Cheers, Shankar Kiragi
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