Science / Biology

Nature by numbers

The elegance of mathematics meets the breathtaking complexity of the natural world





When the Spanish filmmaker and graphic designer Cristóbal Vila looks at nature, he sees numbers, and the remarkable elegance of mathematics. The theorems and geometric equations that explain natural phenomena – such as the shape of an insect’s eye, or the structure of a seashell – come to life in this short documentary, and simultaneously bring beauty to mathematics and logic to nature. Uniting music and animation with mathematics, Nature by Numbers is a sensory science film, an immersion in the world of the minute and microscopic, and an exciting introduction to some of the great geometric and scientific concepts.

Director: Cristóbal Vila

  • Fabian

    No comments? This short movie is great. Congratulations.

  • Siya


  • Jolene Oldham

    This is fantastic! Lovely and informative, I could watch it if it went on for hours!

  • SimBerg

    we need more of these films! I´ve sent it to my little nephew to show him that maths make sense and can be more exciting as it is learned at school

  • tp1626 .

    The essence and beauty of nature is much more beautiful than numbers and math to me . It was made to be appreciated and loved I'm sorry but numbers do neither just my feelings .

    • imwithstoopid

      But, to more fully understand and appreciate the Universe around us, the numbers mean everything.
      Including the building blocks of all around Us, to the Colors, Music, and our very Thoughts. I believe only We Humans can and do see what you do but, seeing the abstract makes it all more pleasing and wondrous.......

      • Anarcissie

        When I was a child going to school, the beauty and mystery of mathematics was carefully and completely drained out of the subject, and all that was left was the most dreary accounting and mechanistic procedure. It was much the same with science. Why were the schools so determined to crush the life out of these subjects? I guess that's what they do.

        • imwithstoopid

          Ah, the wonder of the bureaucratic mindset, teach to the lowest common denominator using the least amount of energy / cost.

  • imwithstoopid

    I do not believe that I've ever seen the Mathematics of Nature more beautifully, elegantly, and simply shown. Where was this when I racking my brain to understand 2 + 2 and beyond?
    Oh, and perfect accompaniment of music.
    Please put this in the Elementary schools to entice and seduce the minds of our future, we need so badly to encourage STEM............

  • ostara1099

    Life and Math are Amazing !

  • boonteetan

    Nature is mathematically elegant and beautiful, while mathematics is naturally beautiful and elegant. Absolutely wonderful.

  • Don Dehart Bronkema

    Odds on explaining the ontology of the 38 constants of Ye Physic = 'N' to the Square-Root of Minus-One...

  • Daniel Cunningham

    Dear Cristobal,

    Thanks very much for this excellent video. I have a question I hope you can answer for me.

    In the development of the film, you make very explicitly defined visual developments of your derivations. For example, you do an excellent development of the 135 degree angle generated by the Phi ratio around a circumference. And you use this to generate a set of "cast off" points onto a circular surface area (the seed points of the sunflower). But when you get to the point where you pick a set of points to develop the next set of concepts (the vertex points for the 6 pointed "near hexagons" that you then map onto biological architectures) I'm not clear how you picked the specific points you use to begin your development.

    So... how do you select those points (that you highlighted) from the larger set of the points (that you generated with the phi ratio) in the circular area of the sunflower disk?

    Thanks for any clarification here. And once again, my appreciation and admiration for your beautiful work.

    -- Daniel Cunningham

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