Simple geometry in complex organisms, 2008

Topics: Crystallography, helix, icosahedron, natural law, platonic solids, symmetry, structural hierarchies, tensegrity, tetrahedron

Authors: Graham Scarr


Many cultures throughout history have used the regularities of numbers and patterns as a means of describing their environment. The ancient Greeks believed that just five archetypal forms–the ‘platonic solids’–were part of natural law, and could describe everything in the universe because they were pure and perfect. The formation of simple geometric shapes through the interactions of physical forces, and their development into more complex biological structures, supports a re-appreciation of these pre-Darwinian laws. The self-assembly of molecular components at the nano-scale, and their organization into the tensegrities of complex organisms is explored here. Hierarchies of structure link the nano and micro realms with the whole organism, and have implications for manual therapies.

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