Snowflake, Seashell, Star
Alex and I initially met thanks to this blog. He was fact checking for an article that included the Taylor-Socolar aperiodic tiling that I had written up. The general theme of the article was the magical Gathering for Gardner in Atlanta, where we later met in person. Our first work together was to write up what is now known (at Alex’s insitence) as the Harriss spiral.
Then in May Alex had the great idea of getting into the growing trend for adult colouring books. The intricacies of designs allowed, was perfect for a book of mathematical images. It seemed that this idea caught on and we had interest from publishers, but it came with a big caveat “Can you make it by June the 15th?”. We slightly hesitantly accepted and got to work. We made a book in a month! Of course if you have seen stuff on this blog you will know that I have been secretly preparing for this book for years. So secretly I was not even aware of it myself!
The result is Snowflake Seashell Star, (Patterns of the Universe in the US). A collection of images to colour and rules to follow to relax with and hopefully to enjoy.
This book is particularly satisfying as it fits one of my most dearly held agendas. To help the deepest and most beautiful ideas of mathematics be more accessible to everyone. Too often we hide more advanced mathematics for fear of causing confusion. Yet, in an analogy I stole from Marcus du Sautoy, we do not do the same in English where material, like Shakespeare, that can be studied for a whole lifetime can be introduced in primary school. How do we help access the equivalent literature of mathematics?
There will always be many answers but hopefully this book will provide one. People begin with the patterns, working on them in detail as they colour. There is plenty of potential to make discoveries about the underlying structure but no pressure. Any discovery that is made is a significant achievement. Having engaged with the pure forms, a curious colourer can then read in the back of the book to discover a little about what it was they were studying. I hope that many will have made their own opinions before finding out how to see what they were doing in delightful new ways. With careful use of google they might be able to dig further, finding more about the mathematics behind the images they love. Or perhaps not, again this is pressure and testing free! Everyone can choose their own way to engage and enjoy the material.
For those for whom the notes at the back are not sufficient and the google searches are frustrating I hope to cover some of the material on this blog. If there is a topic you would particularly like to hear more about let me know in the comments below!