Sunday, August 16, 2009

Modelling Hyperbolic Space using Crochet

The Institute For Figuring's Online Exhibit: Hyperbolic Space:
In 1997 Cornell University mathematician Daina Taimina finally worked out how to make a physical model of hyperbolic space that allows us to feel, and to tactilely explore, the properties of this unique geometry. The method she used was crochet.

Dr Taimina’s inspiration was based on a suggestion that had been put forward in the 1970’s by the geometer William Thurston (also now at Cornell). Noting that one of the qualities of hyperbolic space is that as you move away from a point the space around it expands exponentially, Thurston designed a paper model made up of thin cresent-shaped annuli taped together.
I heard a discussion on ABC radio this morning on the way into work about modelling hyperbolic (non-euclidian) space using crochet. Margaret Wertheim from the Institute for Figuring was talking about Coral Reef projects around the world. She has also spoken at TED on the subject.

Very funky...

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