Patterns in nature
Natural patterns form as wind blows sand in the dunes of the Namib Desert. The crescent shaped dunes and the ripples on their surfaces repeat wherever there are suitable conditions. Patterns in nature are visible regularities of form found in the natural world. These patterns recur in different contexts and can sometimes be modelled mathematically. Natural patterns include symmetries, trees, spirals, meanders, waves, foams, arrays, cracks and stripes. Early Greek philosophers studied pattern, with Plato, Pythagoras and Empedocles attempting to explain order in nature. The modern understanding of visible patterns developed gradually over time. In the 19th century, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau examined soap films, leading him to formulate the concept of a minimal surface. Mathematics, physics and chemistry can explain patterns in nature at different levels. History The American photographer Wilson Bentley (1865–1931) took the first micrograph of a snowflake in 1885.
Related: Fractals Mandlebrots & Dreams of Electric Sheep
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