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Crochet & Coral Reef by Ann Treacy
March 22, 2010, 9:10 am
Filed under: Dublin

A new exhibit opens at the Science Gallery this week: Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. There are a couple of aspects of the exhibit. First, two sisters started the project sort of in homage of the coral reef. (Note: on my horrible trip back to Minnesota I met one of the sisters!) They started crocheting replicas. Some are very colorful – like healthy coral reef; some are white representing the coral reef that have bleached because they sense danger. The structures are kind of amazing. Then they invited more people to participate by sending in their crocheted coral reef and they had a big response from all over the world. We saw huge panels created by classrooms in Latvia. We saw luminescent coral reef crocheted by a woman who is in her 80s. We saw delicate doily-like structures and beaded structures.

The most geeky aspect of the exhibit is that crochet has served as a way for mathematicians to model a new type of geometry – hyperbolic geometry. It turns out that the kind of curved nature of coral reef and crochet can represent or demonstration a kind of negative geometry that takes place beyond three-dimensions. I’m going to attach the great TED talk where the curator talks about the math – rather than try my own feeble explanation. (This is the woman I met.)

So anyways, it’s very cool. Patrick and I went on the sneak preview night. Where they were giving out yarn and crochet hooks. I got one for each of the girls and at least two of them seem to have picked up an interest. I was never very good at crocheting, but it’s funny how it comes back to you. Sadly I was totally bust trying to crochet and drink at the preview when trying to balance the glass and crocheting my ball of yarn escaped and fell over a balcony – just missing someone’s head. (Super quick note – after the exhibit we had an amazing meal at Il Primo – put it on your fancy eating list if you’re visiting Dublin!)

Back to the Science Gallery, we enjoyed the exhibit so much we brought the girls back the next day. They loved it too. Trinity Science Students staff the exhibit and a young woman did a great job of explaining hyperbolic geometry to the girls. I know it wouldn’t make a ton of sense to them yet – since none have started geometry – but I figured someday they’d be sitting in a math class and it might come back to them.

Sheesh I nearly forgot to mention that the exhibit included two works by MC Escher. I think that may have been Patrick’s favorite part.


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