Crocheting a Coral Reef

Biologists Team Up with Crochet-ers to Create Museum Display of Coral Reef Made of Yarn

February 1, 2011

Biologists worked with crocheting artists in order to create a life-size display of a coral reef- made almost entirely of yarn. The crocheting used a method invented by a mathematician that creates a saddle-shaped design. The method increases the number of stitches in a row randomly, to create ruffles. More stitches mean more ruffles. The crochet reef even includes pale white yarns to mimic the damage seen on real reefs, indicating the bleaching occurring from global warming.

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WHAT IS GEOMETRY? Geometry is the field of mathematical knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. The earliest written records -- dating from Egypt and Mesopotamia about 3100 BC -- demonstrate that ancient peoples had already begun to devise mathematical rules and techniques useful for surveying land areas, constructing buildings, and measuring storage containers. Beginning about the 6th century BC, the Greeks gathered and extended this practical knowledge and from it generalized the abstract subject now known as geometry, from the combination of the Greek words geo (Earth) and metron (measure).

WHAT IS GLOBAL WARMING DOING TO THE OCEANS? It's raising the oceans' temperatures ever so slowly, but also, it's making it easier for them to absorb Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Large amounts of CO2 are absorbed by the ocean, up to a million tons an hour worldwide. This changes the chemistry of the ocean, making it slightly more acidic. This can harm the environment as far as many marine animals and plants are concerned, causing devastation in ecosystems like coral reefs. However, because more acidic seawater absorbs less low- and mid-frequency sound (the frequencies at which many animals communicate), water becomes better able to transmit certain frequencies, meaning that equally loud noises can be heard farther away in water with lower pH levels.

The American Geophysical Union, American Mathematical Society, American Statistical Association, Biophysical Society, Mathematical Association of America, and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

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