Have you heard about the Crochet Coral Reef?
My friend, Judy, showed up at my door in December armed with a number of crochet needles and a project. Not just any crochet project, mind you, but one involving the realization of hyperbolic space (hyperbolic geometry has a negative curvature: every point in hyperbolic space is a saddle point) through needlework.
She was inspired by Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project started by twin sisters Margaret and Catherine Wertheim, who also founded the Institute For Figuring which, in their own words, “…is dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science, mathematics and the technical arts.”
In 2005, in response to news that the Great Barrier Reef was under grave threat from global warming and environmental pollutants, the sisters decided to recreate the Reef in fiber to draw attention to its fate.
As it turns out, crochet is the perfect technique to use in recreating an ocean reef. In 1997, Cornell Mathematician, Dr. Daina Taimina (who is also skilled in the feminine arts of handicraft) discovered that through crochet she was able to create an actual physical model of hyperbolic space, something that had eluded scientists for years. Of course, hyperbolic planes exist all over the place in nature, and all sorts variations can be seen under the sea in the form of coral and sea slugs. Her excellent book, Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, explores the history of hyperbolic geometry using the craft of crochet to illustrate her points.
The Reef Project, which started in the Wertheim sisters’ Los Angeles living room, quickly took on a life of it’s own, spawning satellite reefs all over the world in places as far-flung as Melborne, Latvia, Croatia and New York. Various reefs have been exhibited in several cities, most recently at the Smithsonian in D.C. The project is ongoing and the IFF website contains information not only on how to get started with hyperbolic crochet, but how to join or start your own satellite reef.
It is the perfect intersection of craft, community, science and activism.
To learn more about sea slugs, crochet, and math, take a look at Margaret Wertheim’s kick-ass TED talk:
This project inspires me. I really don’t need any more hats, but bring on the sea slugs!
This is an original post from Heather Topcik, Domaphile.
~Like elephant green on Facebook.~
Heather Topcik is a librarian and mother of two young children living in New York City. Passionate about windowfarming, composting, and making stuff, she blogs about the joys and challenges of urban domesticity and sustainability at domaphile.com.
Prepared by Jill Barth
hot on elephant
Elephant Journal’s Holiday Gift Guide 636 shares A letter to the Anger that refuses to Leave Me. 572 shares Waylon’s favorite Ethical Gifts. 13 shares Join: Elephant’s Winter 2017 Academy. 28 shares Trevor Noah just won my Respect. 2,560 shares Year of the Fire Rooster 2017: What to Expect. 926 shares December Forecast: Letting Go of 2016 & Leaning into 2017 with Love. 7,183 shares The Real Reason so many Long-term Relationships Fail Sexually. 744 shares Why a Year of No Dating was the Best Thing I ever did for Myself. 6,396 shares These Tweets (and Retweets) actually Happened. 1,387 share