Thursday, April 27, 2006

Knit Theory- knits and knerds collide!

My mom sent me an article from Discover Magazine a few months ago that I thought was really interesting and nerdy, but it involved knitting. It concerned this mathematician who tried modeling a hyperbolic plane by knitting it. Well, crocheting. I'm no expert in geometry, but basically instead of the flat geometric planes we know of, hyperbolic planes curve out from a center point and continue to curve on. So basically, hyperbolic theory states that instead of the space being a series of intersecting or parallel flat planes, space has a curvature nature. What exactly this means in the bigger picture, I have no idea. Like I said, I’m not a mathematician. Apparently, mathematicians struggled for many years trying to produce a physical model of a hyperbolic plane. Enter: a knitter/crocheter/mathematician from Cornell University. Basically, she crocheted a 3-dimensional ruffle, and said "here you go" this is what a hyperbolic plane "looks like".

What I enjoyed about this story is the overlap of two skills that seemingly didn't have anything to do with each other. I admire Dr. Taimina’s creativity (also: score one for team girl!) . The Discover article isn't online, but Interweave Crochet published an article on it, which you can read here. The article includes a crochet pattern so you too can produce a hyperbolic plane model. You know you want to.

Knitters can find a pattern here.

So when someone asks you what the heck that ruffled mass of yarn is, you can say in typical know-it-all egg-head fashion: "a hyperbolic plane, duh!"


bee said...

My boyfriend found that article too! The science is completely beyond me, but the idea is pretty awesome!

Diana said...

Thanks for the link to the article. Very interesting!

ErLeCa said...

That's so cool. I think I remember reading that article!