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Math Models in Nature

How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of reality? — Albert Einstein

Can Math Explain How Animals Get Their Patterns?

This video looks at Alan Turing's Reaction-Diffusion Model, which mathematically defines how patterns might be formed in Nature.

Turing, the father of computers, created a set of formulas that describe how these patterns could be created. Biologists are now looking to see if they can find evidence of Turing's Reaction-Diffusion Model in the real life.

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Bee Populations and Weather

Using data from the National Climate Data Center, students manipulate and trace changes in the bee population via simple math modeling techniques. Such models are being used increasingly in many sub-fields of biology.

This site provides a familiar content to introduce these techniques and sensitizes students to systemic interactions. Since most kids are familiar with bees, applying math models is not so far-fetched.

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Describing Nature With Math

This post by Peter Tyson and NOVA looks at how you can describe a tree or cloud, a rippled pond or swirling galaxy using numbers and equations. This article looks at how scientists use mathematics to define reality, and why.

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What are Fractals?

This article from the Fractal Foundation describes fractals as a never-ending pattern, created by repeating a simple process or mathematical formula over and over again. Fractal patterns are extremely familiar, since nature is full of fractals, like trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, seashells, hurricanes, etc.

Includes an Educators Guide and on-line, interactive examples.

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Earth's Most Stunning Natural Fractal Patterns

This post by Wired magazine shows some of the most stunning natural examples of fractals on our planet.

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Nature's Architecture Follows Simple Math

The answer to life, the universe and everything may be 72, not 42.

This not quite simple article looks at how Dan Rothman and his colleagues formulated a mathematical theory to discover a common angle at which valleys branch. In environments where erosion is driven by the seepage of water out of the ground, the group's theory predicted that rivers branch at an angle of 72 degrees. They then went looking in the real world to see if their theory was correct.

A great article for older students.

By building upon extant online databases – heretofore unavailable to students – students can acquire a set of advanced knowledge in data integration and application.

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