Patterns in Nature – The most magnificent designs come from math and nature, not human beings


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From an artist’s perspective, that’s kind of a given*.

*That’s where 90% of my inspiration comes from, anyway…


After having checked out La Sagrada Familia firsthand, I can say authoritatively that the most magnificent designs (on a macro scale, at least) come from humans inspired by nature.


yeah take that all you unnatural human beings, nature is better than you at designing things. oh and by the way those water droplets are photographed in a studio with a high speed camera, strobe lights, food coloring and a drip machine synced to trigger the shutter. Nature!


Like most useful distinctions, ‘human’ vs. ‘nature’ is only meaningful in the context of an implied scope and with (usually unspoken) caveats; but it is still a useful distinction in many respects.

If you wanted to avoid it, we could call this “patterns emerging from phenomena not including cognition deemed superior to cognitively derived patterns”. Ugly and verbose; but avoids the ‘human’/‘nature’ issue and means largely the same thing.

(As for the specific example of the water droplets: it takes a photographer and a bunch of tech tricks to display the consequences of the complex interactions of surface tension and fluid dynamics and such to their best advantage; but the fact that water droplets do anything worth photographing is founded right in the physics: Math is arguably the much more important instance of this: everything we know about math(aside from some basic operations-on-small-well-behaved-numbers stuff that appears to be at least partially instinctive since it shows up in wholly untaught children and a fair variety of nonhuman animals); we know because mathematicians thought about it real hard and constructed proofs and so on. However, there’s a good case to be made that we don’t really ‘invent’ what we discover when dealing with math: I don’t wish to diminish the genius involved in defining a really elegant, useful, and self-consistent set of axioms, or working out a hairy proof; but even the nastiest of proofs has always been a logical consequence of its axioms, regardless of whether it is ever discovered. The Platonic Realm of Unknown Proofs isn’t terribly useful to us; but it’s hard to shake the nagging impression that proving something is a discovery, not an invention.)


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