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The Crochet Coral Reef (CCR) is a project by the Institute For Figuring, a non-profit Los-Angeles based organization that pioneers creative new methods for engaging the public about scientific and environmental issues by putting people and communities at the core.

The CCR is a project that resides at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft and community art practice, and also responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash. It has been exhibited in art and science museums worldwide, including the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), The Hayward (London), the Science Gallery (Dublin), and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington D.C.) Seen by more than three million people, the CCR is one of the largest participatory science + art projects in the world.

Through its Satellite Reef program, the Institute’s team has held lectures and workshops on five continents to teach the techniques of reef-making, and the related science and math, to local communities. Since 2005 the IFF has continued to build this global network that now includes more than 7000 active citizens.

The inspiration for making crochet reef forms begins with the technique of “hyperbolic crochet” discovered in 1997 by Cornell University mathematician Dr. Daina Taimina. The Wertheim sisters (Margaret and Christine, founders of the IFF) adopted Dr Taimina’s techniques and elaborated upon them to develop a whole taxonomy of reef-life forms. Loopy “kelps”, fringed “anemones”, crenelated “sea slugs”, and curlicued “corals” have all been modeled with these methods. The basic process for making these forms is a simple pattern or algorithm, which on its own produces a mathematically pure shape, but by varying or mutating this algorithm, endless variations and permutations of shape and form can be produced. The Crochet Reef project thus becomes an ongoing evolutionary experiment in which the worldwide community of Reefers brings into being an ever-evolving crochet “tree of life.”

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And the cities with the worst air in America are …

According to the American Lung Association, not really. Though air pollution in America has gotten better in the past decade, the group’s latest report found that a whopping 147.6 million people in the United States live in areas with dangerous air quality — that’s nearly half the entire country and almost 16 million more than what last year’s report found.

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