Friday, May 20, 2011

The Hyperbolic Reef is Here!

"Crochet Coral and Anemone Garden" with sea slug by Marianne Midelburg. Photo © The IFF by Alyssa Gorelick.

Last November I did a blog entry about a large knitted reef exhibit at the Smithsonian. This was not just any knitted reef (as if such a thing existed in the first place) but a HYPERBOLIC Crochet Coral Reef.

The concept revolved around hyperbolic space - one of those cool terms that just sounds scientific as all get out. And although understanding it is a bit out there for us non-math majors, it is actually doable. If you have a few minutes, check out this link from the original Crochet Coral Reef project: Introduction to Hyperbolic Space.

Why would we care? Well, part of what is enjoyable about nature and the ocean world is the physical beauty of the structures and organisms we see. It is not generally a world of straight lines, but still one that feels like there is some order to it. And indeed there is. We all know about the spirals of the snail's shells, but with a simple mathematical pattern in hyperbolic geometry, one can now create the crenelations and ruffles of a piece of lettuce, or the edge of a sea slug's body, or the curlicues of some corals.

And now a knitted coral reef is right here in Hawaii! Check out this great article "Hook and Reef" in yesterdays StarAdvertiser and make your way down to Mark's Garage on June 3 for a look. Or just start crocheting your own coral reef. Let me know how it goes.



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