Who knew there was a vast intersection of math, knitting, and marine science? There is, and it’s in the shape of a hyperbolic geometrical knitted coral reef populated by knitted hyperbolic anemones and sponges and sea slugs.
Hyperbolic objects have constant negative curvature, as opposed to the constant positive curvature of spheres. This shape maximizes surface area to volume, so it’s popular with filter-feeders like corals, who use their tiny tentacles to grab even tinier bits of food out of the water. But hyperbolic space is difficult to imagine, so Dr. Daina Taimina decided to crochet a model in order to illustrate the concept to her students.
This apparently led to something of a trend in mathematical crochet, and now there’s a whole reef being exhibited in Chicago. I’m totally biased, but I wish they talked more about the reasons that biological organisms are hyperbolic. The surface area to volume constraint, having to maximize food and minimize body size, has caused some fascinating evolutionary developments – the frills of boa kelp, the lophophores of bryozoans, and even our own digestive systems. Maybe they can add little teeny knit zooplankton to demonstrate coral feeding?
Via Deep Sea News