Left and Right: The Mechanics of Chirality from Darwin’s Perversion to Feynman’s Obsession

Most structures in nature such as proteins, climbing vines, and seashells exhibit a chirality, some are left-handed, some are right-handed, some are both. The ultimate origin of this handedness is one of Nature’s great mystery. However, mechanics play a fundamental role in both assigning handedness and carrying this information from microscopic to macroscopic scales. In this talk, I will discuss the general problem of handedness, trace its evolution in the history of science, and use examples from biology and biophysics to illustrate the interplay between mechanics and handedness with some surprising twists.