Saturday, May 29, 2010

Marcus du Sautoy: Symmetry, reality's riddle

By Robert C.

In this Ted Talk, University of Oxford mathematician, Marcus du Sautoy, explains how the world connects all of its places and items through symmetry. Sautoy states the world revolves around symmetry, and he theorizes that our physical and mental desires are heavily influenced by symmetry.

Marcus du Sautoy claims that people instinctively desire to be symmetrical. One of his first examples is a picture of a woman and man, in their normal body. He proceeds to show and compare the normal picture to a revamped symmetrical version of the photo. The symmetrical version is much more attractive he claims, as it is closing in on mankind’s general desire to be perfect, or complete. He then dives into the math and science of symmetry, further divulging the main types of symmetry: reflective and rotational. Reflective symmetry is shown through a mirror, or water; it replicates an image through reflection. Rotational symmetry is when an object can be spun in any direction but still remains the same shape as before. However, he claims there is one other kind of symmetry. This other symmetry is “Zero Symmetry.” This is when the object is only moved in height; up and down, and does not change from its previous form. Sautoy finishes by acknowledging that non-symmetry makes buildings, places, and people more interesting, borrowing this knowledge from a Japanese proverb.

Marcus du Sautoy is overall a very effective speaker. He is obviously experienced in giving lectures as he is a professor at Oxford, one of the world’s most prestigious universities. The long, uninterrupted talk he gave was one he has either done a lot, or he is very charismatic, evidenced by the many strong talking techniques he used. Sautoy capitalized on illustrating exciting stories related to symmetry, such as opening with a story about a young mathematician who created the main theory of symmetry being shot in a duel. His stories and humour were apparently effective, shown through the audience’s obvious engrossment in his speech. Finally, at the beginning of his talk he gave the audience an idea to consider for the whole talk (an idea about how many symmetries a rubic's cube contained) and this just made the listeners happier to be involved.

To conclude, this talk proved to be very interesting and educational. Marcus du Sautoy did a wonderful job on giving insight on the very confusing subject of symmetry, and my view on the world’s layout will be changed forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment