Symmetry Destroyed: The Failure of Parity

Authors(s):Krishna Myneni Publication: Publication Date:December 10, 1984 Publisher: Citation: Link:

Symmetries have long played a crucial role in physics. The conservation laws of the past had more fundamental roots within the symmetry of the universe. Such laws as conservation of linear and angular momentum arise from an even more fundamental requirement: physical laws are invariant under translation and rotation. The law of conservation of parity arose from the symmetry between the left and right hands.

Chen Ning Yang has stated, "In the study of nature, one believes in something simple underlying all". Madame Wu agrees, "One hopes that nature possesses an order that one may aspire to comprehend. When we arrive at an understanding, we shall marvel how neatly all the elementary particles fit into the great scheme." Violation of the law of conservation of parity, then, should lead one to search for an even more fundamental symmetry to the universe.