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Symmetry

Duration:
18 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 16 May 2014

Symmetry is everywhere once you become aware of its presence. We see symmetry all around us; in art, architecture and science, but also in more complex forms, buried deep into the genetic code of nature. Why does symmetry exist and why do we see such beauty in it?

Mike Williams talks to the Oxford professor and mathematician Marcus du Sautoy about the fundamental properties of symmetry and how we are sensitive to the order and simple beauty of it. We hear from New York fashion photographer Alex John Beck about his work on symmetry in faces and why we find symmetrical faces attractive. Plant biologist Dr Paula Rudall explains how bees are also attracted to symmetry in flowers. Lebanese composer and musician Bushra el Turk demonstrates the use of symmetry in music and the pleasures we experience when hearing it – and hearing it disrupted, in unexpected ways.

(Image: Most flowers have bilateral symmetry which bees are attracted to for pollination. BBC Copyright)

  • Symmetry 1

    Symmetry 1
    Symmetry has been structured symmetrically so that the timings for speech and music clips are reflected in the first and second half of the programme.
  • Symmetry 2

    Symmetry 2
    Symmetry has been structured symmetrically so that the timings for speech and music clips are reflected in the first and second half of the programme.
  • Symmetry 3

    Symmetry 3
    Symmetry has been structured symmetrically so that the timings for speech and music clips are reflected in the first and second half of the programme.

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