One of the most beautiful aspects of nature is the incredible richness of patterns, lines and geometry we can find in animals, landscapes and the very fabric of nature itself. When you look into it you find an ever greater amount of intricate patterns developing before your eyes which makes you wonder what is behind all this art.
It was a British scientist called Alan Turing who studied the creative patterns in nature and concluded that every living organism, from the simplest cells to the most detailed plants, must be made with a mathematical basis which produces this art in nature. Turing came to the conclusion that all the geometry patterns in living beings were the direct result of what he termed ‘invisible mathematical processes’. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras had alluded to this more than 2000 years ago when attempting to interpret the entire physical world in terms of numbers.
In the Fotoviva Art Prints image collections we have many examples of patterns in nature, from the Nautilus mollusk with spiral shell and the incredibly intricate lines of a sun-lit leaf to the patterns in sand created by water and markings on animal fur. Things as simple as the shape of broccoli stems to the lines on a zebra all have a similar mathematical explanation behind them.
Most of the time we either don’t notice the beautifully intricate patterns in nature or our minds are too busy to register them, but take a few minutes to have a look around your garden and you will find just how amazing nature can be. See the geometry in a flower head, the hexagons in a honey comb, the beauty of a fern leaf. Nature really is the greatest artist of all time!
Not convinced? Then I take it you have never seen a snowflake under the microscope. Snowflakes are simply breathtaking mathematical shapes based on fractals. You cannot say a mathematical process was not behind the creation of a snowflake. Looking at nature from this perspective gives us a new appreciation of the world around us. We can see how intelligent life is, and always has been from the dawn of time. Using the fractal mathematics system helps nature to create expanding and complex life forms using only a small amount of information.
In fact, these fractal and geometric patterns are within us humans too – our lungs look like typical fractal patterns, growing in mathematical spirals. Our eyes are very intricate, our fingerprints, our brains, our nerve structures – they are all geometric patterns. Even mountains and galaxies are based on fractal designs, so from the smallest cells to the great vastness of space, nature is abundent with patterns of a mathematical nature.
Here is an excerpt from a piece of literature dealing with fractals which may help to clarify things. “Fractals contain self-similar patterns of complexity increasing with magnification. If you divide a fractal into parts, you get nearly an identical size copy of the whole. Infinite complexity is found by repeating fractal-generated equations. Its patterns are natural representations of the Fibonacci, or golden, spiral. And this is related to the golden ratio and proportion.” Then again, that may confuse you even more!
Here are some great examples of nature’s patterns from our image collections…
Jason Wickens wrote this article for Fotoviva Art Prints.