Monday, July 26, 2010

reflections on symmetry

My review of the book

Mirror-image asymmetry: An introduction to the origin and consequences of chirality
by James P Riehl

appears in today's issue (No 14) of Chemistry & Industry, pp28-29.

Here's a snippet:
I was intrigued to learn that the historic Dutch windmills, like so many other things, owe their unanimous chirality to the fact that they were designed for right-handers. Conversely, the plane of the Wright brothers is achiral, as it has two propellers that are mirror-images of each other.
All in all this is a laudable effort by a long-serving practitioner of science to popularise his field, and a book that can enlighten chemists and lay people alike.

The review should show up here soon.

A traditional Dutch windmill (1100 Roe) standing in a winter landscape on the outskirts of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Photo by Massimo Catarinella, from Wikimedia Commons.

PS solution to the windmill conundrum: operating the windmill involves climbing up the blades and unfolding the sails. All Dutch windmills are built such that you can do that with your right hand.

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