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Maths in Nature

Maths in Nature

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Published by Sreevats Ravillu

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Published by: Sreevats Ravillu on Aug 23, 2010
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08/13/2013

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Maths in Nature
The concept of ‘Maths in Nature’ is as innate as a persontaking his first breath. Most would agree that ourconception of maths in its basic form has been derived as ameans to describe aspects of our environment as an elementof a much larger sociological agreement. So to say that“maths exists in nature” is as redundant a statement assaying that humans themselves exist in nature. However inresearching this topic one can not help but marvel at howwell ‘mathematics’ corresponds with the grand scheme of things and ultimately makes one wonder what came first; anissue of the chicken or the egg as it were.Whatever the case, we can rationalize that maths in natureis factual in its tangibility. It is this outstanding quality thatmakes the use of maths in nature a tremendous resource forthe classroom. Too often we force mathematical concepts onthe basis of blind faith, while examples such as these arequite literally all around us. Demonstrating maths in natureis an ideal approach for illustrating what many students willregard as arbitrary information and should be utilized by allteachers as a tool to increase learner interest. When maths iswitnessed in its purest form the realization can be trulyamazing. Sometimes the application of mathematics canseem to be separate from the natural world but in actualfact when we take the time, math can be seen all around us.The majority of our knowledge of mathematics and modernscience is strictly based and supported on our observationsof our environment. What was once seen as the randomnessof nature is now distinguished as the intricate applications of mathematics and illustrates the complexities of our naturalworld.
 
Symmetry
Many mathematical principles are based on ideals, andapply to an abstract, perfect world. This perfect world of mathematics is reflected in the imperfect physical world,such as in the approximate symmetry of a face divided by anaxis along the nose. More symmetrical faces are generallyregarded as more aesthetically pleasing.Five axes of symmetry are traced on the petals of thisflower, from each dark purple line on the petal to animaginary line bisecting the angle between the opposingpurple lines. The lines also trace the shape of a star.Man is naturally attracted to symmetry. Very often weconsider a face beautiful when the features are symmetricallyarranged.Symmetrical forms can be found in the inanimate world aswell. The planets, with slight variation due to chance, exhibitradial symmetry. Snowflakes also provide an example of radialsymmetry. All snowflakes show a hexagonal symmetry aroundan axis that runs perpendicular to their face. Every one sixth of a revolution around this axis produces a design identical to theoriginal. The fact that all snowflakes have this sort of symmetry is due to the way water molecules arrangethemselves when ice forms. It's a reminder that symmetry ispart of the structure of the world around us.Shapes
Perfect
 
Earth is the perfect shape for minimizing the pull of gravity on its outer edges - a sphere (althoughcentrifugal force from its spin actually makes it anoblate spheroid, flattened at top and bottom).Geometry is the branch of maths that describes suchshapes.
Polyhedra
For a beehive, close packing is important to maximize theuse of space. Hexagons fit most closely together withoutany gaps; so hexagonal wax cells are what bees create tostore their eggs and larvae. Hexagons are six-sidedpolygons, closed, 2-dimensional, many-sided figures withstraight edges.
Cones
Volcanoes form cones, the steepness and height of which depends on the runniness (viscosity) of the lava.Fast, runny lava forms flatter cones; thick, viscous lavaforms steep-sided cones. Cones are 3-dimensional solidswhose volume can be calculated by 1/3 x area of base xheight.
Parallel lines
In mathematics, parallel lines stretch to infinity, neitherconverging nor diverging. These parallel dunes in theAustralian desert aren't perfect - the physical worldrarely is.
Geometry - Human induced
People impose their own geometry on the land, dividing arandom environment into squares, rectangles and

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