The LA-based Institute for Figuring has installed several reefs of crocheted coral in the South Bank Centre and in the Hayward Gallery. Unfortunately in the Hayward photos were not allowed.

This is an image of the “toxic” reef, I believe. But it may also be the UK reef– contributions from UK crocheters for the project.

There is math involved– a hyperbolic plane to be exact, or in IF’s words, the “wild and unruly” space of non-Euclidean geometry. Coral grows in a hyperbolic structure. Cornell University mathmetician Diana Taimina discovered crochet was the perfect medium for demonstrating hyperbolic space. Dr Taimina’s record plane, featured in the Smithsonian’s collection of American Mathematical Models, began with 24 stitches, with stitches added in every stitch, to measure 369 inches around the perimeter.  It weighs nearly a pound, but the piece is just four inches across. It’s interesting to note Dr. Taimina tried knitting a hyperbolic plane but the number of stitches on the needle became unruly– it is possible, but impractical. It has been postulated that our universe may in fact be hyperbolic in structure. A crocheted universe…now there’s a thought.