math in nature

Mathematics is a methodical application of matter. It is so said because the subject makes a man methodical or systematic. Mathematics makes our life orderly and prevents chaos. Certain qualities that are nurtured by mathematics are power of reasoning, creativity, abstract or spatial thinking, critical thinking, problem-solving ability and even effective communication skills.


Mathematics is the cradle of all creations, without which the world cannot move an inch. Be it a cook or a farmer, a carpenter or a mechanic, a shopkeeper or a doctor, an engineer or a scientist, a musician or a magician, everyone needs mathematics in their day-to-day life. Even insects use mathematics in their everyday life for existence.
Snails make their shells, spiders design their webs, and bees build hexagonal combs. There are countless examples of mathematical patterns in nature’s fabric. Anyone can become a mathematician if one is given proper guidance and training in the formative period of one’s life. A good curriculum of mathematics is helpful in effective teaching and learning of the subject.



Many mathematical principles are based on ideals, and apply to an abstract, perfect world. This perfect world of mathematics is reflected in the imperfect physical world, such as in the approximate symmetry of a face divided by an axis along the nose. More symmetrical faces are generally regarded as more aesthetically pleasing.


Five axes of symmetry are traced on the petals of this flower, from each dark purple line on the petal to an imaginary line bisecting the angle between the opposing purple lines. The lines also trace the shape of a star.


Shapes – Perfect

Earth is the perfect shape for minimising the pull of gravity on its outer edges – a sphere (although centrifugal force from its spin actually makes it an oblate spheroid, flattened at top and bottom). Geometry is the branch of maths that describes such shapes.


Shapes – Polyhedral

For a beehive, close packing is important to maximise the use of space. Hexagons fit zmost closely together without any gaps; so hexagonal wax cells are what bees create to store their eggs and larvae. Hexagons are six-sided polygons, closed, 2-dimensional, many-sided figures with straight edges


Shapes – Cones

Volcanoes form cones, the steepness and height of which depends on the runniness (viscosity) of the lava. Fast, runny lava forms flatter cones; thick, viscous lava forms steep-sided cones. Cones are 3-dimensional solids whose volume can be calculated by 1/3 x area of base x height.



Any circle, even the disc of the Sun as viewed from Cappadoccia, central Turkey during the 2006 total eclipse, holds that perfect relationship where the circumference divided by the diameter equals pi. First devised (inaccurately) by the Egyptians and Babylonians, the infinite decimal places of pi (approximately 3.1415926…) have been calculated to billions of decimal places.



Is one infinity bigger than another infinity? The size of all natural numbers, 1,2,3…, etc., is infinite. The set of all numbers between one and zero is also infinite – is one infinite set larger than the other? The deep questions of maths can leave you feeling very small in a vast universe.



Many natural objects, such as frost on the branches of a tree, show the relationship where similarity holds at smaller and smaller scales. This fractal nature mimics mathematical fractal shapes where form is repeated at every scale. Fractals, such as the famous Mandelbrot set, cannot be represented by classical geometry.