Astrogator's Logs

New Words, New Worlds
Artist, Heather Oliver             

Life Is Never Even-Handed

Chirality (handedness) is intrinsic to life across scales yet surprisingly absent from speculative fiction. The single time I recall a plot point hinging on it is during Mal’s battle with the Operative in Serenity. I have decided to explore this attribute in a series, which I will cross-post here and at Science in My Fiction.

The first article, Southpaws: The Hops in Humanity’s Beer, is up at SiMF today. Versions of it appeared very early on this blog with the title The Left Hand of Light and at HuffPo. I will follow with articles on carbon compounds (aka organic chemistry), biomolecules, brain lateralization… in short, whatever falls under the broad rubric of handedness and pleases my left-handed, left-leaning sensibilities!

Image: Southpaw by RobtheSentinel.

8 Responses to “Life Is Never Even-Handed”

  1. LauraJMixon says:

    Let’s hear it for lefties!

  2. Athena says:

    Et tu, Brutus? *smile*

  3. Neo says:

    My mother is a kind of lefty…. 🙂


  4. Athena says:

    Which kind? *smile*

  5. Walden2 says:

    Distinguishing left- and right-handed molecules by two-step coherent pulses

    Authors: W. Z. Jia, L. F. Wei

    (Submitted on 23 Aug 2010)

    Abstract: Chiral molecules with broken parity symmetries can be modeled as quantum systems with cyclic-transition structures. By using these novel properties, we design two-step laser pulses to distinguish left- and right-handed molecules from the enantiomers.

    After the applied pulse drivings, one kind chiral molecules are trapped in coherent population trapping state, while the other ones are pumped to the highest states for ionizations. Then, different chiral molecules can be separated.

    Comments: 11 pages, 3 figures,

    Subjects: Quantum Physics (quant-ph)

    Cite as: arXiv:1008.3787v1 [quant-ph]

    Submission history

    From: Wen Zhi Jia [view email]

    [v1] Mon, 23 Aug 2010 10:09:58 GMT (188kb)

  6. Athena says:

    Hmmm… is this a real application? Remind me to tell you about mathematicians’ and physicists’ theories about protein folding.

  7. Walden2 says:

    The Origins of Life

    A mineralogist believes he’s discovered how life’s early building blocks connected four billion years ago.

    By Helen Fields

    Photographs by Amanda Lucidon

    Smithsonian magazine, October 2010

    Full article here:

  8. Athena says:

    This sounds like a variation on Cairns’ theory.