Left or Right in Nature, or why is the Universe left-handed?

Thursday 30 March 2017 at 7.00pm
Holt’s Planetarium, NBHS, Chambers Street, Napier
Admission by gold coin donation


Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger
Director of the Centre for Theoretical Chemistry and Physics
Massey University in Auckland

Single-handedness is present in everything, down to the tiniest molecule. This was startling to 20th Century scientists, who until then presumed the world was symmetrical. We now know right-handed sugars and left-handed amino acids completely dominate the biochemistry of living organisms.
But if our universe is left-handed, why are humans predominantly right-handed? Even though our hearts are on the left? What is responsible for this leaning toward one side or the other?
Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger and scientists from around the world have devoted years of research to proving or disproving over 50 hypotheses to explain it.
In this lecture he aims to fascinate and enlighten a general audience.

This is but one of many areas of Professor Schwerdtfeger’s wide ranging interests. He is a world-leading authority in quantum chemistry and physics, working on fundamental aspects of chemical and physical phenomena in atoms, molecules and condensed matter. His approach to science is truly interdisciplinary, ranging from chemistry to physics, computer science and mathematics.

He is Acting Head of Institute of the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study and has published more than 290 papers in international journals and books and in 2014 won the Royal Society of New Zealand’s most prestigious science award, the Rutherford Medal, which recognises the combination of eminent research and the advancement of public awareness and understanding of science.

Professor Schwerdtfeger’s visit to Hawke’s Bay is supported by