“I wonder at the starry pattern in the sky
Are they little pieces of moon which want to fly..?”
― Munia Khan
Calculus, algebra, and trigonometry. In high school, these were the subjects I was told (and believed) I would never master. Though my mind migrated to right-brain dalliances, I took every advanced math class offered because it was a challenge. Even when I quizzed out of college Trig and received a math scholarship, I still believed that I was “terrible at math.”
As I’ve gotten older, I can see that my self-assessment wasn’t entirely true. I am drawn to patterns, numbers, anagrams, repetition, and formulas–especially in nature.
Meet Mr. Phi ^^^
He’s the little dude who inspired this story. Note his (her?) shell ridges and symmetry. Now, look at the white marks scoring her (his?) body. If we were to measure the distance between each terraced ridge or patterned mark, we would find a mathematical sequence. Does this make the impressions random or dipped in God’s calculated paint pot?
“The laws of physics is the canvas God laid down on which to paint his masterpiece”
― Dan Brown,
The simplest is the series 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc. Want your mind blown? Look at Mr. Phi and then look at the mathematical depiction of Mr. Phi.
Random? Coincidence? If you measure your finger joints, and insert into the equation, you’ll see further proof.
Does knowing that nature has an algorithmic design detract from the beauty…or add to it?
“Science and religion were not enemies, but rather allies – two different languages telling the same story, a story of symmetry and balance… heaven and hell, night and day, hot and cold, God and Satan. Both science and religion rejoiced in God’s symmetry… the endless contest of light and dark.” ~~Dan Brown,
Each a descriptive word with a numerical depiction in nature. I’m a visual person, so if the calculator isn’t handy, I want to see it first hand.
Symmetry: For me, this is the easiest to understand. Two sides to a face, mirror images, pairs of shoes, yin and yang. It’s why we are drawn to formal flower beds, lines of buses and even integers. It’s why I notice “11:11” every time it shows up on a digital watch or phone. My brain is wired for symmetry, balance, and harmony.
A Kansas favorite, showy sunflowers boast radial symmetry as well as Fibonacci seed pods. If you look closely, you’ll notice the same sequence with leaves, petals and seeds – it’s why it’s difficult to find a four-leaf clover or poison ivy marked by anything but leaves of three.
Spirals: These arrangements have explanations at different levels – mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology – each individually correct, but all necessary together.
Thank goodness for Wikipedia–I couldn’t have come up with that definition on my own. Think of snowflakes, ocean waves, riverbeds, and craggy canyons–a method to nature’s madness.
Even in destruction and decay, fractal math is evident.
If a person tries to grasp too many patterns and formulas, thoughts often fall into sludge and chaos. This post has taken me over three months to compile, and longer to collect the photos. Even today, in my semi-organized quest to show you the beauty and review the equations for each phenomena, I find myself a bit overloaded and overwhelmed.
“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.”
― Henry Adams,
Perhaps a non-scientist/non-mathematician like me is not intended to grasp the complexities of tessellations, waves, stripes, and spheres. Maybe I’m just supposed to look and listen to the inner stirrings of a heart naturally inclined to cherish nature’s gifts. Perhaps you are, too.
And, when you look, what do you see? Do you see math, beauty…or both?
Does your head hurt a little? Worried that there was going to be a quiz?
Not now. Unless you want to guess what time this post published today…anyone?
Take a look at my Pinterest page if you want to see more beautiful patterns.
Extra treat! Mr. Phi is Instagram famous– JJ-Indetail featured him on their page this morning. He’s a shy guy, but was thrilled to see his name in lights.
Please discuss below! Mr. Phi wants to see the world through your eyes, too.