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Amazing Sculptures ‘Magically’ Come Alive When Spun Under a Strobe Light





Optical illusions are images that the brain perceives differently from the objective reality. The eye receives information that does not match the physical appearance and measurement of the stimulus source. Often, these illusions are fun to watch. But when such kind of art is coupled with mathematics, it produces magical results.

Take these 3D-printed sculptures for example. Created by John Edmark, an inventor, designer, artist, and lecturer in Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, these works of art become alive when spun under the a strobe light at just the right speed. The rotation speed must be set to match the flashes of the strobe light; that is, the strobe light flashes each time the sculpture rotates at 137.5º.

So aside from the strobe light and the well-calculated rotation speed, what makes these scuptures unique?

Two words.

Fibonacci sequence.

The proportions of the sculptures correspond to the Fibonacci sequence, which is a sequence of numbers where the next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it. It looks like this…

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181, 6765, 10946, 17711, 28657, 46368, 75025, 121393, 196418, 317811

…and so on and so forth.

What makes the Fibonacci sequence so special? We may not notice it, but it’s everywhere – the branches in a tree, the leaves on a stem, tapered pinecones, the arrangement of sunflower seeds, and the nautilus shell, to name a few. One of the reasons why the sequence is particularly evident in plants is that such arrangement of leaves on a stem allows sunlight to hit each leaf. When this happens, plants undergo proper photosynthesis, and grow stronger and healthier. You see, we have seen the Fibonacci sequence on several occasions without us even knowing.


Edmark wrote about the sculptures on his website:

“While art is often a vehicle for fantasy, my work is an invitation to plunge deeper into our own world and discover just how astonishing it can be. In experiencing a surprising behavior, one’s sense of wonder and delight is increased by the recognition that it is occurring within the context of actual physical constraints. The works can be thought of as instruments that amplify our awareness of the sometimes tenuous relationship between facts and perception.

I employ precise mathematics in the design and fabrication of my work. I do this neither out of a desire to exhibit precision per se, nor to exalt the latest technology, but because the questions I’m trying to formulate and answer about spatial relationships can only be addressed with geometrically exacting constructions. Mathematical precision is an essential ally in my goal of achieving clarity.”

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Edmark’s works are a representation of the cliche “things are not always what they seem.” We may perceive that the sculptures are moving and transforming, but in reality these objects are rigid and have fixed shapes. For years, mathematicians, philosphers, and artists have delved into the relationship between visual perception and objective reality, and Edmark’s works have successfully illustrated its baffling yet astonishing nature.

What do you think of the sculptures? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and doon’t forget to share this post with your friends on Facebook!

H/T: SFGlobe

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