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Exploring the Relativity of “Left” and “Right” Between Humans and Potential Alien Life

  Physicist Feynman raised this question in a popular science lecture: If humans encounter aliens one day, how will they talk about left and right with them? This seemingly nonsensical question contains a profound meaning: if aliens can communicate with humans, then they must also have certain knowledge about the objective world, such as length, quantity, etc., as well as the language and concepts used to describe them. Even if the respective languages ​​are different, a common basis of definition can still be found. For example, using the diameter of a hydrogen atom to define a unit of length is like using one ten-millionth of the length of the meridian through Paris from the equator to the North Pole to define a meter.
  However, there may be another prerequisite for the reason why humans take the left-right division for granted—our trunks and limbs are roughly symmetrical along the spine, while most of the internal organs are asymmetrical. Most people have their heart on the left and their liver on the right, but there are a very small number of people who have mirror images. What if aliens are not vertebrates like us? If they were like an octopus, with eight claws (tentacles), would they still be able to differentiate between left and right? There are also some organisms on Earth that are radially symmetrical, such as jellyfish, starfish, and coral polyps. “Patrick” in the cartoon is anthropomorphically painted with eyes and face, but in fact the starfish does not have a head and a tail. The place where the face is drawn is actually one of the five legs of the starfish. What’s more, there are some organisms that lack symmetry at all, such as sponges and amoebas. Due to the lack of symmetrical limbs, they most likely cannot and do not need to understand the difference between left and right or even up and down.
  In that lecture, Feynman eventually introduced the chirality of certain particles to explain left and right to aliens. In fact, the advanced goal of his original example was to introduce the law of non-conservation of parity… Even if we do not enter the weird microscopic world and stay in the stable macroscopic world, for most people, left and right may seem clear. , but it is difficult to define because it is a relative orientation. Only when people all have their heads pointed toward the sky and face the same direction will the left and right sides be consistent. Some studies have shown that the language of an aboriginal tribe in Australia does not have words to express left, right, front, and rear at all, but only uses southeast, northwest, and northwest. This can also avoid misunderstandings caused by left and right.
  Someone once asked the audience in a public speech: Pedestrians keep to the right, so who is left on the left? Although this sentence was regarded as a joke, I don’t know if anyone at the scene pointed it out. The world is indeed asymmetrical in many cases. People who think the world is always symmetrical may be ignorant; while people who think the world can never be symmetrical are probably out of “malice.” The asymmetry between left and right is not because people are different, but precisely because people are the same. In fact, the best way to resolve it is very simple – turn around.

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