Hexagon – sacred geometry

Math Munch

Welcome to this week’s Math Munch!

People can be skeptical when some mathematicians and scientists talk about mathematics as the “mysterious code” that “underpins the world.” I mean, the natural world is so chaotic! But then you run across this:

bees on honeycellsHoneycombs are remarkably symmetrical. Each little cell is a perfect hexagon – and all bees build this way. Why? Because of mathematics.

NPR’s Robert Krulwich wrote about this in a recent post on his excellent science blog, Krulwich Wonders. I think the explanation is an amazing example of how the natural world often follows mathematical rules perfectly. Thousands of years ago, an ancient Roman scholar named Marcus Terrentius Varro conjectured that the hexagon is the shape that most efficiently breaks flat space up into little units – making honeycombs that hold the most amount of honey while using the least amount of wax. He couldn’t prove his idea, though…

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