You Can Discover Design in Nature

WHEN taking a stroll in the countryside, most of us notice the beauty of nature. It may be in a clump of flowers, a colorful bird, a magnificent tree, or a striking vista. Many people attribute such beauty to a Creator or a Master Designer.

You may assume that only scientists can discover the intricate design in nature. However, you do not need sophisticated scientific equipment to spot nature’s designs. All you need is a sharp eye, a little imagination, and an appreciation for beauty and form. You may also need to take a closer look at familiar objects that you have perhaps taken for granted.

One of the simplest designs is the spiral. It can be seen in such familiar man-made objects as a coil of rope or a corkscrew. However, you can find much more elegant spirals in seashells or pinecones. And if you look carefully at the center of a sunflower, once again the spiral pattern is evident. Less obvious spiral patterns also grace the center of a rose and a spiderweb.

Take a close look at a spiderweb. First, a spider puts in place the principal struts of its web, somewhat like the spokes of a wheel. It then starts at the center to connect these struts together with a sticky silken thread. Round and round the spider weaves in circles until the web is complete. These ever-expanding circles of thread make the spiral.

Another intriguing pattern in nature is that of the ocellus, or the eyespot. Eyespots can be found in the most unlikely places​—on the feathers of a bird, the wings of a butterfly, or even the scales of a fish. Scientists suggest that eyespots can help a courtship, fool an attacker, or ward off unwanted attention. The peacock is perhaps the most famous example of eyespots, and his courtship display is one of the wonders of the natural world. Alexander the Great was so impressed by the beauty of the peacock that he insisted that the bird be protected throughout his realm.

The circle and the sphere are also familiar patterns. The golden orb of a setting sun or a silvery full moon invariably arouses our admiration. Many flowers of the daisy family have a sunlike appearance, with a yellow center and radiating petals of various colors. The golden “eye” of these ubiquitous blooms offers a feast of nectar that attracts butterflies almost as readily as a golden beach attracts tourists.

Since the sphere is the most economical shape for packaging, fruits and berries often come in spheres of different sizes and colors. Their vibrant colors attract birds, which disperse the seeds in exchange for a tasty meal.

Of course, spirals, eyespots, circles, and spheres are only a few examples of the many patterns found in nature. Though some have a specific purpose, others may serve as decoration or camouflage. Whatever the case, look for them and enjoy them.

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