1st Edition

The Language of Symmetry

Edited By Benedict Rattigan, Denis Noble, Afiq Hatta Copyright 2023
    138 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Chapman & Hall

    138 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Chapman & Hall

    138 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Chapman & Hall

    The Language of Symmetry is a re-assessment of the structure and reach of symmetry, by an interdisciplinary group of specialists from the arts, humanities, and sciences at Oxford University.

    It explores, amongst other topics:

    • order and chaos in the formation of planetary systems
    • entropy and symmetry in physics
    • group theory, fractals, and self-similarity
    • symmetrical structures in western classical music
    • how biological systems harness disorder to create order

    This book aims to open up the scope of interdisciplinary work in the study of symmetry and is intended for scholars of any background - whether it be science, arts, or philosophy.

    Preface by Professor Denis Noble CBE FRS, vii

    Contributors, xi

    Introduction by Benedict Rattigan, xiii

    Editors’ Note by Afiq Hatta, xxix

    About the Contributors, xxxv

    Chapter 1 ◾ Planetary Systems: From Symmetry to

    Chaos 1

    Caroline Terquem

    Chapter 2 ◾ Entropy and Symmetry in the Universe 13

    Dimitra Rigopoulou

    Chapter 3 ◾ Darkness, Light, and How Symmetry

    Might Relate Them 25

    Alan Barr

    Chapter 4 ◾ Self-Similar Self-Similarity 37

    Joel David Hamkins

    Chapter 5 ◾ The Language of Symmetry in Music 51

    Robert Quinney

    Chapter 6 ◾ The Interdependence of Order and

    Disorder: How Complexity Arises in

    the Living and the Inanimate Universe 69

    Denis Noble

    Chapter 7 ◾ A Philosopher’s Perspective on the

    Harnessing of Stochasticity 77

    Sir Anthony Kenny

    Chapter 8 ◾ Postscript: A Dialogue between Denis

    Noble and Benedict Rattigan 83

    Appendix: A Response to Professor

    Noble’s Paper: Ordered Disorder to

    Drive Physiology 89

    Anant Parekh FRS—Professor of Physiology

    with Frederick B. Parekh-Glitsch and Daniel



    INDEX, 95


    Benedict Rattigan is a writer, and he is Director of the Schweitzer Institute, a think-tank that promotes an ethic of ‘reverence for life’ through educational programs, community outreach projects, a peer-reviewed journal and university conferences.

    Denis Noble CBE FRS held the Burdon Sanderson Chair of Cardiovascular Physiology at Oxford 1984-2004 and was appointed Professor Emeritus and co-Director of Computational Physiology. Professor Noble is one of the pioneers of systems biology and developed the first viable mathematical model of the working heart. He is one of the founders of the new field of Systems Biology and is the author of the first popular science book on the subject, The Music of Life (2006).

    Afiq Hatta is a science writer, and the owner of the blog simplesalad.ghost.io. He primarily writes about theoretical physics and its connections with economics and philosophy. He is a recent graduate of Mathematics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and was formerly a quantitative trader at Morgan Stanley.