In the Chinatown district of Los Angeles, there’s a storefront on N. Hill Street called The Institute of Figuring where you can work through a mathematic idea by molding clay, beading string, or folding paper. (Paper is naturally a Euclidean medium, but with the right folding techniques it can be made to curve into the elegant arch of a hyperbolic parabola!) Visitors young and not so young are invited to weave matrices of tetrahedrons, octahedrons, cubes and other “regular” polyhedral into unique configurations.
Two sisters involved in the IFF, Margaret and Christine Wertheim launched the Crochet Coral Reef Project in 2005. Today, thousands of crafty mathematicians around the world are crocheting wooly coral reefs as an homage to the Great Barrier Reef. (The sisters are from Queensland.) What does crocheting have to do with math? Developed by Cornell mathematicians Dr. Daina Taimina, the technique of “hyberbolic crochet”- of making loopy kelps, fringed anemones and crenelated sea slugs are based on algorithms! Check out A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space.