Visiting Edinburgh

I believe that this holiday had the theme “math in nature”. During these weeks, I found myself looking for mathematical patterns in nature. Anything from symmetry, spirals, fractals or any other patterns have been part of my “research” project this summer. I don’t have an explanation, it wasn’t something planned, it just happened. So, I just wanted to share with you some images from my favorite spots in Edinburgh for this summer: The Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World and The Royal Botanic Gardens.

First of all, here are more images with butterflies in case you wanted to see more. As I have explained in my previous post on butterflies, I have always found them interesting and unique. I have been loving them since I was a little girl and every time I see one, I feel mesmerized. Bellow, you can see an image with a beautiful, furry caterpillar.

Caterpillar 1

To understand how far this small obsession of mine has gone, for years I have been playing a game called Flutter where you are basically collecting different species of butterflies. A while ago I wrote a blog post about it and how you could use it to explain some mathematical concepts to your pupils/children.

As the name suggests, Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World also has other creatures besides butterflies. My favorite after butterflies were the tarantulas. They offer presentations about them from time to time and I was lucky enough to be there at the right time. Besides the nice and calm staff that explain everything so beautifully and makes you interested in the subject, they were also offering you the possibility to hold a tarantula. Of course I wanted to do and it was such a great experience. Without further explanations, meet Fluffy – the tarantula:

Tarantula 1

Here are images from the center with other interesting creatures. My third favorites were the ants and after studying they movement on the ground I had the urge to know if anyone studied it and if they found any interesting mathematics hidden there. After some research, I found out that the answer is YES! You will find out more about this in my future post: Learning mathematics from Ants.

My second favorite place in Edinburgh this summer was the Royal Botanical Gardens. It is a great place to relax and meditate. I was fascinated by the amount of species you can find there and their beautiful symmetry and pattern. For example, take a look at the small pink flowers bellow. They have 2 lines of symmetry and looking close I think they also have rotational symmetry of order 4. What do you think?

Mathematicians have been fascinated by the patterns found in nature. A good example is Alan Turing: “he had always enjoyed examining plants when on his walks and runs, and now he began a more serious collection of wild flowers from the Cheshire countryside, looking them up in his battered British Flora, pressing them into scrapbooks, marking their locations in large-scale maps, and making measurement. The natural world was overflowing with examples of pattern; it was like code-breaking with millions of messages waiting to be decrypted. Like code-braking, the field was open-ended;” (page 547 from  Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges).

Also, do not forget to check the Glasshouse when you are there for a chance to see a huge room full of ferns, the perfect example for understanding fractals.

Hope you had a great summer. I will post about other things I have visited and enjoyed during the summer. More nature related posts are coming soon. Let me know what you’ve been up to in the past month. Have a great day. You can find me on Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  Twitter   and  Instagram. I will try to post there as often as possible.

Lots of love and don’t forget that maths is everywhere! Enjoy!


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