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Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Beautiful Math of Coral

The Coral Reef is made up of structures comprising some of the most complicated mathematical models known to man. Mathematicians have long maintained that ‘geometrical hyperbolic space’ (that scalloped, crenulated edge of reefs and kelp) could not be modelled in the real world, however, Margaret Wertheim has found a way; through the art of crochet! Yes, I mean the age-old technique of pulling loops of yarn through other loops with a hook!

I will leave the details of the maths and models to Margaret Wertheim in the TED video below (skip to 5 minutes for the maths-y bit if you just can’t wait!) but she has championed the understanding of maths through this feminine handicraft and in getting away from the obsessive, cerebral, pen and paper mode of mathematical thinking to a more practical approach that, as an aside, creates wonderfully crafted works of art.

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