HYPERBOLIC CROCHET CORAL REEF

By Patricia Sauthoff

Ladies Silurian Atoll (detail)

There’s supposedly nothing in nature more beautiful than a coral reef. The delicate underwater structures provide the planet with some of its most diverse ecosystems. Because of their importance there are dozens of groups out there working hard to protect these amazing valuable resources.

The beauty of the coral reef has inspired Christine and Margaret Wertheim to curate a crochet reef called the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. By mixing math, science and crafting (which, lets be honest, requires good math skills) the Australian sisters have created a wonderful work that has inspired others to get involved.

This work isn’t for beginners though. The math involved is complex and uses no patterns. Instead, it uses hyperbolic crochet techniques that allow crafters to make complex forms.

Cornell University mathematician Daina Taimina first used knitting techniques to make her model but discovered that crochet was the way to go. Taimina and colleague David W Henderson have an online tutorial for anyone willing to give it a go.

Currently, the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is showing at the Science Gallery in Dublin’s Trinity College. It’ll stay there until June 11. In October (from October 16 to April 17, 2011) it will move to Washington DC’s Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Next time you spot a woman crafting in public, just remember, she might be doing complex mathematics, not just making something cute.

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2 Comments

  1. more complete instructions with lots of full color photos you can find in my book Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Planes – have a look inside here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Crocheting-Adventures-Hyperbolic-Planes-Taimina/dp/1568814526
    🙂

  2. Christel says:

    Even if I could knit, my calculus is stuck in 2d, aka flatland. Maybe, I could knit doilies of orthogonal tragectories or directional fields for a differential equation; hopefully I wouldn’t poke out my eye trying!

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