The diatom that wrote its own crochet pattern


After my last post, I got excited and decided to crochet a diatom.  Like you do.

I started with the star-shaped one tucked into the top right of the photo.  See it?  If you look closely, it seems to be made up of pointy bits with pentagon-shaped bases.  Well I squinted a bit, counted the rows of ‘pattern’ in the photo – eight rows with the stitches increasing in multiples of five – and voila!  One point complete.

Now for the putting-it-together-bit.  I started with six pointy bits and sewed them together and quicly realised that for the diatom to have a logical 3D structure, I was going to need more.  Clearly, I wasn’t paying attention at school for the bit when we did dodecahedrons (or I’ve forgotten it), but 12 points are what are needed to get the pentagon bases to create a closed 3D structure. [Actually my proto-diatom only has 11 – got distracted by ‘The Big Short’, watch it if you haven’t already – so is, bless it, a little strained in places.  Hey ho.].

So, here’s the thing -when you look at my (albeit slightly skewed) proto-diatom with one point directly facing,and five surrounding it like the real one in the microsope shot, you can see the points behind peeking out.  See what I mean?  So why doesn’t this happen with the real one?  Have I got it wrong, or is it that the microscope used can only focus on one horizontal slice of diatom at a time and the rest are hidden?  Hmm.

Happily, I know I ‘m not alone in being fascinated by re-creating these amazing structures.  Thank you Jule for your comment about EHUX – made me look up coccoliths.  Cool.


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