Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The shape of nature

I watched the first episode of The Forces of Nature narrated by Brian Cox, The Universe in a Snowflake.
[Unfortunately, I don't think the whole episode is free online. It should be! I watched it streamed through my university library website].

The imagery and creativity are stunning.
The episode focuses on shapes that occur in nature: spherical planets, human towers in Spain, hexagonal snowflakes, honeycomb beeswax, and "spherical" manatees, animals with bilateral symmetry,  ...
Cox nicely discusses some of the underlying principles, including how complexity emerges from simple underlying laws.

How do bees "know" that a honeycomb structure is optimal? This relates to a simple example of symmetry breaking and the much more difficult honeycomb conjecture that was only solved in 1999.


  1. The Universe in a snowflake Forces of Nature with Brian Cox 1 of 4. Here is the utube presentation. Excellent presentation.


  2. http://nautil.us//issue/35/boundaries/why-nature-prefers-hexagons
    by one of finest science writers Philip Ball