Why symmetry gets really interesting when it is broken

From aeon.co magazine: Anthony Phillips is a lecturer in condensed matter and materials physics at the Materials Research Institute of Queen Mary, University of London. A hypothetical alien visitor, sent to observe all of human culture – art and architecture, music and medicine, storytelling and science – would quickly conclude that we as a species are obsessed with patterns. Symmetry is at the core of my own work as a materials physicist. When atoms aggregate to make a material, they naturally arrange themselves into symmetrically repeating patterns. More than this, when we want the resulting material to be useful for a particular purpose – say, if we’re designing a touch sensor or an element of computer memory – these patterns must have the right symmetry to produce these useful properties.