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From spirals to spots to fractals, nature is full of interesting patterns. Many of these patterns even resemble geometric shapes. One of the most common? Hexagons. Why do we see this six-sided shape occur so many times in nature? This week we explore why hexagons are so common in the natural world, from honeycomb to bubbles to rocks, and what their mathematics, physics, and biology may have in common.
D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson. (1917) “On Growth and Form”
Ball, Philip. (2009). “Shapes: nature’s patterns: a tapestry in three parts.” OUP Oxford.
Karihaloo, B. L., Zhang, K., & Wang, J. (2013). Honeybee combs: how the circular cells transform into rounded hexagons. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 10(86), 20130299.
Hofmann, Martin, et al. “Why hexagonal basalt columns?.” Physical review letters 115.15 (2015): 154301.
Aydin, Atilla, and James M. DeGraff. “Evolution of polygonal fracture patterns in lava flows.” Science 239.4839 (1988): 471-476.
Hayashi, Takashi, and Richard W. Carthew. “Surface mechanics mediate pattern formation in the developing retina.” Nature 431.7009 (2004): 647.
Kim, Sangwoo, et al. “Hexagonal Patterning of the Insect Compound Eye: Facet Area Variation, Defects, and Disorder.” Biophysical journal 111.12 (2016): 2735-2746.
Twitter: @okaytobesmart @DrJoeHanson
It’s Okay To Be Smart is hosted by Joe Hanson, Ph.D.
Director: Andrew Matthews
Writer: Joe Hanson
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