Archive for July 18th, 2006

18
Jul
06

The Pirates’ record and symmetry

Of the four games the Pirates have played since the All-Star Game, 3 have been victories. Interestingly, two of the three victories have been won by a single run. More interesting, however, is the pattern of wins and losses in the 2nd half compared to the first half.

In my studies thus far I’ve taken a couple of classes on symmetry primarily as it applies to crystallography. This exposure to symmetry has enabled me to recognize it in everyday life as well: like in the Pirates’ record. Take a look at the Pirates’ record in the 4 games before and the 4 games after the All-Star Break:

L-W-L-L-ASG-W-W-L-W

There is a symmetry operator known as a mirror plane that reflects an object on one side of it to the other side and simultaneously changes the object’s handedness.  This is what a mirror appears to do when you look at it.  If, instead of wins and losses we drew the above diagram labeling handedness instead, we would have:

L-R-L-L-ASG-R-R-L-R

So, it’s clear that the All-Star Break functions as a mirror plane with respect to the outcome of Pirates’ games.  If the Pirates are able to keep this pattern intact for the rest of the season, they will get a win for every 1st half loss, and a loss for every 1st half win, putting them at .500 for the year.  Let’s hope they can pull it off, though I wouldn’t mind if they broke the symmetry a little and wound up above .500, but that might be too much to ask for.




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