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Institute for Figuring

A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space

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A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space: An Exploration of the Intersection of Higher Geometry and Feminine Handicraft

By Margaret Wertheim

This elegant book provides an introduction to the subject of hyperbolic space and a how-to guide for making hyperbolic crochet models. The volume is a wonderful introduction to the LA-based Institute for Figuring (IFF) and their Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project.

For two thousand years mathematicians knew about only two kinds of geometry – the plane and the sphere. But in the early nineteenth century they became aware of another space in which lines cavorted in aberrant formations. Offending reason and common sense, this new space came to be known as the hyperbolic plane. Although the properties of this space were known for 200 years, it was only in 1997 that mathematician Daina Taimina worked out how to make physical models of it. The method she used was crochet.

Here, IFF director Margaret Wertheim presents a brief history of hyperbolic space in mathematics and nature and offers a "field guide" to its crocheted manifestations. An invaluable resource for those interested in the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, one of the largest science + art projects in the world.

For an even deeper look into the Crochet Coral Reef project, see the IFF’s new and gorgeously illustrated publication, Value and Transformation of Corals.

The Institute For Figuring is an organization dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science, mathematics and engineering. The Institute’s interests are twofold: the manifestation of figures in the world around us and the figurative technologies that humans have developed through the ages. From the physics of snowflakes and the hyperbolic geometry of sea slugs, to the mathematics of paper folding, the tiling patterns of Islamic mosaics and graphical models of the human mind, the Institute takes as its purview a complex ecology of figuring.

The mission of the Institute For Figuring (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit) is to contribute to the public understanding of scientific and mathematical themes through innovative programming that includes exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and participatory, community based projects. Founded in 2003, the IFF has developed exhibits and programs for museums, galleries, colleges, and community groups around the world.

The Institute For Figuring, 2005, softcover, 5.25 x 8.25 in, B&W illustrations, 112 pages.