Ascension – or – The Honeycomb Conjecture

Here’s an introduction to fractals, a pictorial summary of the Fibonacci sequence in nature, and some awesome time-lapse video of flowering plants. And to top it off, here’s a cool picture of a kind of cauliflower.

All of these patterns converge to give us an astounding look at how nature operates. I look closely at how cauliflower grows in the garden, for instance, and one thing becomes quickly apparent: there is a game plan.

The object not just of the cauliflower but of every other being in nature seems to be the path of least resistance; water, plants, and even animals continuously searching for efficiency. For example, bees build hexagonal structures in their hives because hexagons are one of three geometrical shapes with equal sides that can fit together without gaps, and having equal sides allows them to work from multiple points simultaneously, saving both space and time. As Alan Lightman explains in “Symmetrical Universe,” his piece in the latest edition of Orion magazine:

More than two thousand years ago, in 36 BC, the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro conjectured that the hexagonal grid is the unique geometrical shape that divides surface area into equal cells with the smallest total perimeter. And the smallest total perimeter, or smallest total length of sides, means the smallest amount of wax needed by the bees to construct their honeycomb. …But Varro had made only a conjecture. Astoundingly, Varro’s conjecture, known by mathematicians as the Honeycomb Conjecture, was proven only recently, in 1999, by the American mathematician Thomas Hales. The bees knew it was true all along.



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