Nov 28, 2020  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

HON 254 - Symmetry

Prerequisite, acceptance to the University Honors Program. Symmetry is everywhere. The human fascination with it originates from our observations of the natural world where symmetric forms appear abundantly. Nature's symmetries range from very simple to extremely complex, from very concrete to very abstract, and they extend over scales ranging from subatomic to cosmological distances. For millennia symmetric forms have inspired artists, architects, musicians and scientists. Artists have explored symmetries of the natural world and the human body to create masterpieces that look harmonious and appeal to our senses of beauty, harmony and perfection. Observing symmetries in nature and developing their own symmetric standards, architects have learned to design beautiful buildings and ornamental art. Ancient Greeks associated rhythm, harmony and patterns in music with periodicity and variations of forms in mathematics. In more recent developments symmetry emerged as one of the deepest ideas of modern mathematics and science responsible for our significant advancement in understanding the world. In this course we will explore historical origins of symmetry and its wide applications by examining how the quest to understand symmetry leads to beautiful science describing the beautiful natural world. We will also briefly mention entertaining aspects of symmetry and demonstrate its use in games and puzzles, mostly in Rubik's Cube and mathematical tricks with playing cards. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits