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  • Writer's pictureStephen Collette

The Mathematical Beauty of Nature’s Designs

As you can imagine, we have some pretty interesting conversations and links shared within our team here at Common Earth. This week it was a TED Talk about Penrose Tiling, which looked at the non-repeating patterns of certain tile designs that have been used for hundreds of years. That led us to an article titled Arithmetic Has a Biological Origin.

Math is everywhere in our lives, and surprisingly, the human designs that truly capture your attention are based on nature. Picture in your mind a place of architectural beauty that you have seen online, or if lucky, in person. Often these places could be sacred places like mosques, temples, synagogues, or churches. Have you ever thought about why that place resonated with you? Made you feel different inside, maybe calmer, more at peace, connected? The answer is math, the math of nature.

Let’s look at this sunflower. Can you see how the seeds spiral out from the centre? Do you see them spiralling clockwise or counter-clockwise? They are going both. This is called the golden mean, golden ratio, or Fibonacci’s sequence.

This image shows the famous mathematical Fibonacci curve, the sunflower, and other forms in nature where it appears.

This is the same mathematical pattern that created the magnificent monument the Taj Mahal. This is why it looks balanced, calming, magnificent, and in some ways in our subconscious, natural. Because it is designed that way.

A Japanese Pagoda and the human form. You see, nature-based design and nature are both mathematical. It is complex but mathematical.

These examples are just the very tip of a large design history connecting us to the natural world around us. Craftspeople from every millennium and every corner of the globe have tried to express the beauty of nature in forms that we can personally touch and feel. When we see that these pieces of art, architecture, and music resonate with us at a deep level, we are reconnecting with nature.

So what? Why does this matter? When we realize that we are truly a part of nature, we will experience empathy, and compassion towards the earth and everything on it. We are part of the natural community too. That community needs us to remember, and reconnect.

So now, back to your favourite architectural place. Remember that feeling? Have you ever had a similar feeling outside in nature? Of course you have. Because we are nature.


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