Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Scientist TV - Math in a Minute: How to create a spaghetti monster

Beware: the simple shape at the beginning of this animation quickly spirals out of control.
Produced by mathematical artist Jos Leys, the emerging spaghetti monster stems from a trefoil knot, a staple of Celtic art. It's the simplest form of a mathematical knot which, contrary to a common knot, involves a closed loop that's impossible to untie. The tangled structure is then generated by imagining a set of increasingly complicated orbits that a particle might take around the trefoil.
Leys has appropriately nicknamed the space-filling curve a 'spaghetti factory'. Its noodle-like strands quickly envelop the screen and if it were allowed to continue growing, it would eventually fill the whole of 3D space.
A trefoil knot and its relatives are themselves orbits of a set of points underlying chaotic behaviour, called the Lorenz attractor. The system was discovered by mathematician Ed Lorenz while he was trying to model the complex behaviour of weather.
If you enjoyed this video, catch our previous Math in a Minute episodes, to see, for examples, how ornaments can defy geometry or to witness the mysterious nature of infinity.


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