22 February 2013

What makes flowers so beautiful?

Why are some leaves curly, others spiky, and others flat? Listen to the recent BBC radio discussion, Forum, in which  John Innes scientist professor Enrico Coen discusses these questions with New York photographer Andrew Zuckerman, and ecology professor Lars Chittka. Bridget Kendall brings together these three experts to ponder some of nature's mysteries.

Vessels Enrico Coen has been studying the basic principles of how flowers grow turn from bud to bloom by working with computer scientist Andrew Bangham at UEA. They have found some simple rules of nature and, joining forces with Rob Kesseler, Professor of Ceramic Art & Design at Central Saint Martins College of Arts & Design, and PhD student Tilly Eldridge, used them to create some original "organic" objects of their own using a 3D printer.

Andrew Zuckerman has got up close and personal with some of the world's most wonderful flowers in his quest to capture the essence of a flower's shape in a single photograph, shot against a plain, white background. And Lars Chittka helps us understand nature through the eyes of a bee, that much-coveted pollinator, which is attracted to a flower by symmetry, colour and scent. An expert in the relationships between plants and other creatures, Professor Chittka founded the Research Centre for Psychology at Queen Mary, University of London.

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