This will be the final post in this little series about maths in nature. The idea for this series came about as a result of an ongoing review of my photographic archives with the aim of identifying themes in my photography. I identified a link between my love for photographic studies of architectural detail and the details of plant structures, particularly those that clearly exhibit a mathematical basis. The realisation of this link is particularly interesting for me but what is also interesting is what has emerged from blogging about it.
In the comments of previous post, George Munday raised the idea of symmetry in composition and Doug Hickock raised the ideas of pattern and rhythm. Part of what I was trying to do in that post was suggest a link between maths, nature and visual composition. It delights and intrigues me that the ensuing discussion raised these additional elements of composition – symmetry, pattern, rhythm – because these also happen to be some of the attributes that emerge as a direct result of the mathematical principles underlying growth and form in nature, as the Wikipedia article entitle “Patterns in nature” demonstrates. As Doug highlights, these principles are also common to music. If mathematics is the basis of natural growth and development, it is perhaps not surprising that visual and musical composition based on the same principles is perceived as “beautiful”.
As an aside, the suggestion that the plant was Sempervirum was close: it is in fact a relative, the Aeonium glanduosum. The suggestion put me on the right track and I eventually identified it via an image I found on Flickr. Bizarrely, it turns out that the photographer of that image has in her Flickr stream a number of photographs taken within a few minutes of where I live! What are the chances?