Saturday, October 18, 2008

Social Symmetry

I have always been amazed at the way the human society is groomed towards searching for symmetry everywhere. Time and again I have been encountering this question, why is it that we are able to identify with someone with the same culture as ours, same upbringing as we got and same customs as we cherish? Why is it that we form these groups of friends whom we call "like-minded" people? Why is it that "Bengal" feels proud when Ganguly hits a century? Why is it that despite never having met him, never having interacted with him, the Bengalis are able to connect with him? What is about this strong bond of language that binds completely geographically dispersed crowds together?

The question of hunting for symmetry is not new to the civilization, however. The desire to connect and be connected have been an artifact of human nature since time immemorial. That's how societies grew, languages evolved and networks of people were built through villages, towns and cities. Symmetries grew out of several contextual factors, sometimes living needs, sometimes culture and language and sometimes passions and interests. Even in today's digitized world, symmetry occupies a central place with the rapid evolution of these wide array of social networks across the Web.

My central idea in this blog is what is the reason we are looking for symmetry everywhere? As per the second law of thermodynamics, the entropy of a closed system always increases. However, what is not clear to me is whether the social symmetry is contributing towards this ever-increasing entropy. Or whether the idea of symmetry is actually countering the law of increasing entropy that governs the universe.

Understanding under what conditions hunt for symmetry arises is interesting to me. I conjecture it can lend us better understanding of individual human behavior, and of the changes that he embarks upon the moment he goes out looking for symmetry - the evolution of collective ideas, thoughts, opinions and semantics.

Whether or not the hunt for symmetry is another name of defining compatible entities on the Earth, the idea of compatibility still remains an open question. As in how do we know what kindof social symmetries are compatible for natural selection though evolution? Why is it that despite several species having evolved and gone, the natural tendency for symmetry hunt still exists. How is it that social symmetry is a very intuitive idea to us, though often it might involve satisfying contradictory constraints to conform with a real world? How is this amazing evolving human behavior so naturally adapted to find symmetry in the universe?

1 comment:

Ravi said...

Entropy of a subset of a system may decrease at the expense of total increase in entropy of the entire system. The 2nd law states that for every (irreversible) process the net entropy of the system increases. When you talk abt symmetry (as in social connections) you are actually talking abt "symmetry breaking" into smaller subsets, if you consider humanity as the entire system. High symmetry inplies complete degeneracy, smaller no. of distinct combinations and smaller entropy. Also it muct be realized that it is one of man's principal pursuits to reduce the entropy and thus increase efficiency in his subsystem, however causing even more increase in the entropy of his surroundings.