the hyperbolic crochet coral reef

This lusciously colorful and fuzzy exhibit, designed to bring awareness to global warming and the delicate predicament of the coral reef, landed in the gallery windows on the corner of 9th st. and Broadway last winter. I've thought about it periodically throughout the year, the concept of creating art that mimics the structure and patterns of nature itself in this benignly glorious way is so clever. I'm awe inspired on all sorts of levels and hope you are too.

Actually these hyperbolic forms can be glimpsed all around, in the ruffled edges of kale leaves, the ruching that “Project Runway” designers favor, rippling ballerina tutus and drugstore scrunchies that girls use to gather a ponytail.

Yet mathematicians hadn’t focused attention in their direction. It wasn’t until 1997 that Daina Taimina, a mathematics researcher at Cornell who had learned to crochet as a child in Latvia, realized that by continually adding stitches in a precise repeating pattern she could create three-dimensional models of hyperbolic geometry.

For the first time mathematicians could, as Ms. Wertheim said, “hold the theorems in their hands.”

Patricia Cohen. Want to Save A Coral Reef? Bring Along Your Crochet Hook. New York Times. March 4, 2008.