The new theory suggests that symmetry in nature arises naturally from the way information is encoded and used in evolution.

Symmetry shows up everywhere in biology. To find out why this is happening, scientists conducted a new study. They combined several concepts from biology, computer science and mathematics. It turned out that symmetrical and other simple structures appear so often because evolution favors simple “algorithms.” That is, simple sets of instructions or “recipes” for creating structures in nature.

“Imagine having to tell a friend how to tile a floor in as few words as possible,” explains Ian Johnston, professor at the University of Bergen and author of the study. “Instead of suggesting using shapes of different sizes and distributing them unevenly, it is easier to cover the floor with square tiles, which will give a symmetrical pattern. It also happens in nature.”

The team used computational modeling to study how this preference arises in biology. It turned out that often genomes describe simple algorithms, not complex ones. So, as a result, more symmetrical structures appear.