by Flemming Funch
Synergetic Earth News mentions this article about a new mathematical formula invented by a Belgian biologist, which apparently can generate a surprising range of natural shapes.One simple equation can generate a vast diversity of natural shapes, a Belgian biologist has discovered. The Superformula, as its creator Johan Gielis has christened it, produces everything from simple triangles and pentagons, to stars, spirals and petals. ... The Superformula is a modified version of the equation for a circle1. Changing one term in the formula varies the proportions of the shape  moving from a round circle to a long and skinny ellipse. Changing another varies the axes of symmetry  shifting from a circle to triangle, square, pentagon and so on. Varying both proportion and symmetry together produces shapes with any number of sides, regular and irregular. It can also produce threedimensional structures, and nonbiological shapes such as snowflakes and crystals. "It's a new way of describing nature," says Gielis. Now, where's the damn formula? Wolfram has a discussion of it here. Not that I really understand it. And it seems that Gielis has formed a company based on his formula.

