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"Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee, Child of the wandering sea"

       --Oliver Wendell Holmes,
       "The Chambered Nautilus"


What symbol could possibly represent Fundamental Physics, a subject of such breadth that it seeks to explain pattern and change in the whole Universe, all the way from the tiniest subatomic particles to the organization of galaxies?

Like Nature itself, the symbol had to express itself in numbers and shapes. It had to be something found at every scale--from smallest to largest. It had to speak of connections--how parts resemble wholes--and of moving energy. It had to evoke the organization and architecture of the whole Universe. And, at the same time, it had to be humble, in recognition that as grand and far-scoping as our search might sound, we recall the wonder found in the everyday things that surround us and fill our lives.

The search for this symbol wasn't hard, for Nature provided a ready answer. Of all the shapes found in the Universe, the spiral is the most common. We find it in DNA and the path of electrons, in shells and spider webs, in plant growth and tornadoes, and even in the shape of great galaxies, including our own. It is even possible, we theorize, that the entire Universe is composed of spiraling dimensions.

Nautilus shell, galaxy, and Earth Our own nautilus shell begins with a glowing burst of galactic light in its outermost and largest chamber, spirals inward toward our own home planet, and then even further inward toward a suggested realm of subatomic particles that are so small no one has actually ever seen them. While vastly different in scale, all are intrinsically connected by Nature's basic laws and organizing principles.


Cassini-example orbiting spacescraft By flying experiments in space, we will learn how gravity and other forces in the Universe work and seek a unified theory that gives us a framework for understanding relationships and structures throughout the Universe. We will also put this newfound knowledge to use, inspiring the development of new products that can improve the quality of life on this planet.

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