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Interpreting Earth's Patterns

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0581
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Overlapping “lava toes,” the Galápagos Islands (Photo: Callan Bentley)

The human mind is very good at discerning patterns in nature: shapes, symmetries, repetitions. Even in random visual noise like cloud shapes or Rorschach blots, we see things that have meaning to us. But why do we see hexagons in beehives, mud puddles, ice crystals, and lava flows, but not sand dunes, rose bushes, or comets? What are the commonalities among galaxies, hurricanes, and ammonites that inform their spiral forms?

Callan Bentley, a geology professor at Piedmont Virginia Community College, explores various formations, from branches and braids to waves and wiggles, and explains the science behind each. By decoding some of nature’s formations—from prosaic to sublime—we can better understand our ability for pattern recognition.

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Inside Science