Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Beautiful design

Among the many beautiful little things my future wife has brought along from her trips, one of the most remarkable souvenirs is a pair of small seashells she has found last week on the sandy beaches of Southern California. I have never seen clam shells like these before, although I have been collecting lots of them for myself at every occasion I have been at the seashore.

The shells have such a fine, creamy colour, with radiating lines painted in cafe au lait, and a beautiful shiny surface, they are just small little pieces of fine design no human artist could improve on.

If I got it right, these shells are a variety of shells of the Pismo clam (tivela stultorum), which is quite common in Southern California. Moreover, the mechanisms responsible for the formation of seashell patterns seem to be, in principle, understood. Complex, beautiful patterns can be reproduced by simple algorithms that model the growth of the shell and the spatio-temporal pattern of the deposition of pigments.

But the results are just marvellous.

Thank you, Bee :-)


  1. Hi Stefan, I know algorithms can replicate nature on computer graphics, even print out high quality pics. But it is a giant step for the printer to chuck out an organic shell that you can see grow its pattern (like a flower). I guess cultivated pearls have taken some of the mystery of nature from pearl growing, but what nature effectively turns an anomaly into is 'majestic'

    PS - love the shells, it's no wonder in earlier times people used to trade with exotic shells. Laters ... Q

  2. A New Kind of Science, Stephen Wolfram, pp. 231ff. Class 2 cellular automata. Rule 200 looks close; maybe rule 1047.

  3. Hi Uncle Al,

    thank you for the reference! Rule 200 looks good - I do not have the book, but it is know online as full-text, one just has to register...

    Best regards, Stefan.

  4. Rule 200 looks good

    To me it looks like a barcode. I think I prefer the shells. Best, B.


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