Nearly everyone recognizes and enjoys the visual beauty of the natural world, but how often have we stopped to contemplate the details of the patterns we find so captivating? From the near-infinite variations of snowflakes to the stability of a honeycomb, and from the spirals of the nautilus to the “eye-spots” of the peacock’s feathers and the wings of some butterflies, nature harnesses physical laws and the power of evolutionary change to produce the enormous variety of shapes and colors we find in great abundance in nature.
We will explore a few of the principles that are embodied in these natural processes and look in some depth at how much of the beauty of nature comes about. Along the way we’ll discuss concepts of symmetries, fractals, Fibonaccis, and Turing patterns, and look at how each of them plays out in the world around us.
Les Blatt is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Education at Clark University. His research interests include work in experimental nuclear physics and astrophysics as well as modern approaches to learning science. He has created and taught WISE courses on a variety of topics, mostly where the sciences intersect with other aspects of our life including art, music, energy and climate.
Required Book: The Beauty of Numbers in Nature, by Ian Stewart, ISBN: 978-0262534284.
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