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Frost Science's New Exhibit Shows Math Is All Around Us

Notice a pattern?
Notice a pattern? Photo courtesy of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
There's more behind gazing at your own reflection than you realize. At a new exhibit at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, you enter what seems like an infinite kaleidoscope-like puzzle where you could stare at different versions of yourself all day. But it's worth exiting and learning about how the maze of life is much more orderly than it seems.

"A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature," which debuted this past Saturday, highlights the surprising mathematics of our daily experience. Developed by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the traveling exhibit fills the Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery at the Frost with the coolness of the science: Beyond the repeating patterns of mirrors, a slew of interactive devices were designed to educate guests about the numbers behind the repeating diagrams that find a place in nature, art, architecture, and even themselves.

Daniella Orihuela, director of educational programs for the museum, says she guarantees visitors will leave with a greater appreciation for the subject matter and how it relates to everything around them. "Nature has an inherent structure that can be expressed through numeric and geometric patterns," Orihuela explains. "We can hear, see, touch, and smell them throughout the day without even acknowledging they exist. These displays and activities help us recognize and understand that they all have a purpose."

Throughout the immersive space, on view through April 12, 2020, visitors are encouraged to explore the connections between nature and the designed world. Immersive digital screens teach how to connect dots and spirals to create landscapes, and displays demonstrate how polygons in butterfly wings and honeycombs can be used in architecture. Another highlight is the footage theater, showing images of natural elements — the nested spirals of sunflower seeds, the ridges of a mountain range, and the layout of the universe — displayed at angles that allow the reflective viewer to ponder what's behind it all.

The exhibit also reveals the relation between geometry and the human body: By tracing the patterns on skin, exploring the way blood vessels branch within one's eyes, and noting the symmetry in Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, visitors can experience the mathematical theories of fractal branching, spirals, and the Golden ratio in a way that's easily intuited.

"Once you start recognizing patterns all around you, it can be hard to stop," Orihuela says. "By revealing the beauty of our world through numbers, this exhibit aims to make math accessible and relevant, hence inspiring visitors to look at it in a new, more engaging way."

"A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature." Through April 12, 2020, at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, 1101 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-434-9600; Tickets costs $29.95 for adults and $20.95 for children aged 3 to 11. Members and children ages 2 and younger get in free, and Miami-Dade residents receive a 15 percent discount with proof of residency.
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Juliana Accioly
Contact: Juliana Accioly