Patterns in Nature
Concentric tree rings. Shattered glass. A distant galaxy. The ribs of a lily pad. Why do our eyes spy the familiar pattern of a spiderweb in each?
The human brain is a superb pattern analysis machine. In his book The Ravenous Brain, Cambridge neuroscientist Daniel Bor explains, “We cannot help actively searching for patterns — any hook in the data that will aid our performance and understanding. We constantly look for regularities in every facet of our lives, and there are few limits to what we can learn and improve on as we make these discoveries. We also develop strategies to further help us — strategies that themselves are forms of patterns that assist us in spotting other patterns..” There is a downside to this hunger for patterns. We often jump to conclusions, when there are none. Pareidolia, anyone?
Images, in no particular order: Spider galaxy IC342 (http://goo.gl/NN0St), shattered glass (Michael Chase), spider web (Jacki, http://goo.gl/9TRSH), Giant Amazonian Water Lily Leaf (unknown), tree ring cracks (unknown).