Hyperbolic Crochet


Is it art or is it science, and how is it saving the coral reef? Stay with us, this one is complicated. It is an international project, with women crocheting long coils, 3,000 square feet so far, to draw attention to the destruction of the coral reef in Australia. They are using materials such as yarn, thread, plastic bags, ties, ribbon, and tinsel in all kinds of outrageous colour combinations.

But why has it attracted scientists and mathematicians as well? It turns out that the creatures such as corals, anemones, kelps, sponges and flatworms that live in the reef have what are known as hyperbolic geometric structures. Ballerina tutus and hair scrunches and kale leaves have them too. These are unique shapes that mathematicians were just beginning to comprehend and in 1997 a mathematics researcher and crocheter realized that she could recreate 3-D models of them by crochet and "hold the theorems in her hand". Margaret Wertheim, the creator of the project, read about this work, met the researcher and got the idea for the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. So art and science come together to save the coral reef. Whew! Environmentalism takes many wondrous routes. :: New York Times