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Posts Tagged ‘shapes’

queen annes lace

Not all stars twinkle in the sky.  Some glisten on the shore or wink up at us from the grass beneath our feet.  Their shape is often best appreciated from above.  However, I drew the Queen Anne’s Lace flower, shown at top, from the perspective of an ant that might be looking up towards the sky from a position on the stem.

ALBell echinodermsStar shapes consist of five or more points radiating from a centre.

These star polygons are given different names depending on how many points they have.  For example, a pentagram has five points while an octagram has eight. 

Many of these star shapes hold spiritual significance.  Pentagrams are considered magical and often used in occult practices.  The Star of David and the Seal of Solomon are both hexagrams, star polygons with six points. 

On land, the variety of star shaped flowers is endless.  In the water, echinoderms are marine animals that reveal radial symmetry in some part of their design at the adult stage.  Sea urchins, sand dollars and starfish are echinoderms that often wash up on Nova Scotia’s shores. 

Sometimes, the star structure of the polygon is not as obvious, as is the case with the hexagonal chambers of bees.  Like other shapes in nature, such as the circle, the branch, the spiral and the meander, these tiny hexagons form exquisite patterns and are the building blocks for larger things, in this case, the honeycomb. 

Over the past five Saturdays, I’ve examined five different shapes found frequently in nature as a lead-in to a Summer Scavenger Hunt.  Next Saturday on June 20th, Midsummer’s Eve, I’ll provide final details of the hunt.  Wherever you make your home on the planet, whether you live in the city or in the country, I hope you’ll consider taking part.

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water drops on lupins

Water droplets sparkle on Lupin leaves at dawn along the Salt Marsh Trail.  Surface tension and the strong attraction of water molecules to one another makes a spherical shape the easiest one for them to rest in.

From the very large to the very small, circles and spheres are ubiquitous shapes in nature.  Heavenly bodies such as the moon and stars are spherical.  Even our earth is in this shape.  So are our eyeballs,  the eggs of many species and some seeds.  Many flowers also follow this design.  Their variety is endless, despite their similar shape.

urchin

Sea urchin shells found on Nova Scotia beaches resemble flattened spheres.  It’s difficult to find ones that are still intact.  The circular shell is delicate and very easily broken by seagulls and waves bashing them against the rocks. 

Drawn as a line, a circle appears to have no beginning or end.  As a symbol, it’s no wonder that it’s used to represent eternity and unity.

The circle and the 3D sphere often form exquisite patterns, many of which are building blocks for larger things.  In previous weeks I’ve written about the branch, the spiral and the meander

Next Saturday, I’ll explore one more shape found in nature as a lead-up to a Summer Scavenger Hunt.  Details of the hunt to be disclosed June 20th, Midsummer’s Eve.

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branch

ignoramus:  [Latin] one who cannot or will not follow complexity

The image of a tree usually comes to mind whenever we think of a branch, yet this shape is not limited to trees or even the realm of botany where it is sometimes called a ramus.  Deer antlers, lung bronchi, veins and coral are some of the many things on the planet that are found in the shape of branches.

coral and seaweed

Many examples can be found in the woods and along the seashore in Nova Scotia.  Ferns, seaweed, tree limbs and roots all reveal the branch shape, which, in its simplest form, involves a division of one stem into two parts.  Each part can divide itself again, becoming more and more complex with each subsequent division.  Other words used to describe types of branches include sprig, spray, twig and bough.  In mathematics, branches are known as approximate fractals.

balsam fir

The branch is one of several interesting shapes that are found repeatedly in nature.  These shapes often form exquisite patterns and many are building blocks for larger things.  In previous weeks I’ve written about the spiral and the meander

In the Saturdays between now and mid-summer’s eve, I’ll explore a number of other shapes found in nature as a lead-up to a Summer Scavenger Hunt. Details of the hunt will be disclosed on June 20th, Midsummer’s Eve.  There will be prizes.

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moonshell spiralThe spiral is a shape that has fascinated humans since ancient times.  The first symbols drawn on the planet were spirals, thought to represent the sun and eternity.

When one thinks of spirals in nature, univalve seashells immediately come to mind.  These spirals are logarithmic, the distance between the turns increasing as the shape becomes larger.  (Don’t confuse this shape with an archimedean spiral).

Logarithmic spirals were called spira mirabilis ( marvelous spirals) by the scientists who first studied them.  Besides seashells, this shape is also found in fiddlehead ferns in spring time, the arrangement of seeds in sunflowers and the scales of pinecones.  Not all spirals in nature are static.  Galaxies and tornadoes follow this shape, as do hawks in their approach to prey in flight.

pine cone A look into the mathematics behind spiral shapes can lead to further study of the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Numbers, both fascinating topics.

The spiral is one of several interesting shapes that are found repeatedly in nature.  These shapes often form exquisite patterns and many are building blocks for larger things.  Last week I wrote about the meander.

In the Saturdays between now and mid-summer’s eve, I’ll explore a number of other shapes found in nature as a lead-up to a Summer Scavenger Hunt.  Details of the hunt to be disclosed June 20th.

For more information on the spiral form in freshwater and sea shells, see the shell section at Drawing Conclusions.

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