Lucifer’s Legacy: The Meaning of Asymmetry. Frank Close. Oxford University Press.

Lucifer's Legacy: The Meaning of Asymmetry Book Cover Lucifer's Legacy: The Meaning of Asymmetry
Frank Close
Oxford University Press
May 25, 2000

Modern scientific theory describes a uniformly perfect creation; a universe in which matter would have been destroyed within an instant of its appearance and where nothing that we now know could ever have happened. Human life itself seems lopsided, as the spherical embryo is transformed into a highly structured being with its internal organs mirror asymmetric. The molecules of life differ from their mirror images: the milk in Alice’s looking glass would not have been fit to drink. The mystery of how nature produces structured asymmetric patterns from an underlying uniformity is the basis of much current scientific research.

In Lucifer’s Legacy, physicist and broadcaster Frank Close explores the origins of asymmetry from life to the Universe at large, and asks whether this multitude of examples can be traced back to a single act the took place at the origin of our Universe. Inspired by a chance meeting with Lucifer in the Tuillerie gardens in Paris, Close takes the reader on a sweeping tour of asymmetry in the world around us, from the development of human embryos to the mysterious Higgs boson. His tour culminates in the research now underway in Switzerland, where scientists are preparing an experiment to re-create the Big Bang and hope to resolve the mystery of the original asymmetry. Lucifer’s Legacy describes the possible outcomes of this experiment, and assesses their implications for our understanding of the universe.