Sunday, May 24, 2009

Math, Crochet, Coral Reefs, Global Warming, Oh My!

I was following a reference in the book What's Math Got to Do with It? (Jo Boaler), in which she quoted Margaret Wertheim as saying she was enchanted by pi. I loved the quote and thought I should read it in its original source.

I googled and found The Institute for Figuring, whose photo gallery shows hyperbolic geometry illustrated through crocheted pieces. Why might you care about hyperbolic geometry, if you're not particularly into math? (from the press page:)

For Ms. Wertheim ... the project embodies the “beauty and creativity that comes out of scientific thinking,” what she refers to as “conceptual enchantment.” As it turns out, the gorgeously crenellated, warped and undulating corals, anemones, kelps, sponges, nudibranchs, flatworms and slugs that live in the reef have what are known as hyperbolic geometric structures: shapes that mathematicians, until recently, thought did not exist outside of the human imagination.
... the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is much more than a warning about global warming. It marks the intersection of the Wertheims’ [Margaret's and her twin sister, Christine's] various passions: science, mathematics, art, feminism, handicrafts and social activism.
Now those are some renaissance women! They know that it's all connected, and Margaret is moved by 'conceptual enchantment'. I'd like to meet her some day!

(Back to looking for the quote that got me started...)


  1. the institute rocks. (nice find.)

  2. look here:

  3. It looks fascinating. Have you read it? (I am now on a budget for the next year, and won't be able to buy every yummy book I see.)


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