Year of the Radiolarian

Radiolaria Study – Robert Hodgin

Along with the Biomorphs and Cellular Automata you can find Radiolarians appearing heavily on the Dataisnature coat of arms, these microscopic creatures who’s skeletons emit elegant geometric forms take the place of lions and unicorns.

The real life genetic algorithms behind the formation of these spectacular microscopia lead to self-organising micro-architectures, tiny Buckyballs tessellated via subdivsioning processes. Christine Brody has an interesting page explaining the functional benefits arising from the intricate forms of the radiolaria with some excellent illustrations. The article also proposes theories on how the recursive polyhedral forms arise through processed accretions of silicates in different ways.

The greatest survey of these miniatures, of course, came from Ernst Haeckle, Dataisnature has linked to his illustrations slightly less than a hundred times before – it will do no harm to point you in that direction again. Here’s a page of Acantharia, specimens studied during the famous voyage of HMS Challenger from 1873-1876.

KunstForm4 – Michael Hansmeyer

It no surprise that artists have been inspired by these organisms, George Hart has a page on ‘Reticulated Geodesic Constructions’ and describes an algorithm for producing an ‘Artificial Radiolarian Reticulum’. collates the work of a group of artists who have hand made sculptures inspired by these Kunstformen der Natur.

Recently Robert Hodgin has rendered some very elegant visualisations in Processing by repurposing some previous experiments, check out his Radiolaria Studies here. Michael Hansmeyer, who’s work was mentioned recently at D==N, also references Heackle’s illustrations in his Subdivision Set 4 – where symmetrical organisms have a paper-fine texture like silicate itself. For more morphological wonder head over to the Natural Probes Flickr collection of the Digital Design Studio, Jonas Coersmeier.

2 Responses to “Year of the Radiolarian”

  1. jen writes:

    also reminiscent of the work that nervous system does:


  2. paul writes:

    yep, D==N had been there also :)

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