crown shyness (also known as intercrown spacing) is a phenomenon observed in some tree species, wherein the crowns of fully stocked trees do not touch each other, forming channel like gaps and fractal patterns in the canopy. the phenomenon is most prevalent among trees of the same species, but also occurs between trees of different species.
the exact cause of crown shyness is still debated. some argue it prevents abrasions and collisions between trees swaying in the wind. others hold that the growing tips of branches are sensitive to light levels and stop growing when nearing adjacent foliage, with fewer buds developing in parts of the crown that are already dense. and some believe that it’s a way for trees to prevent the spread of leaf eating insect larvae.
trees communicate with each other via a vast underground fungal network of mycelium, which they tap into through their roots in order to help one another survive. they use this “wood wide web,” as it’s actually called, to warm other trees of predators and drought, to share nutrients with those in need, and to even limit competition for sunlight. they may not be ents, but tress do talk to each other.
Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on. These phenomena are often described by Fractal Mathematics, which captures the Infinite Complexity of Nature. Many natural objects exhibit Fractal Properties, including landscapes, clouds, trees, organs, rivers etc, and many of the systems in which we live exhibit Complex, Chaotic behavior. Recognizing the Chaotic, Fractal Nature of our world can give us new insight, power, and wisdom.
Principles of Chaos
The Butterfly Effect: This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened. A more rigorous way to express this is that small changes in the initial conditions lead to drastic changes in the results. Our lives are an ongoing demonstration of this principle.
Unpredictability: Because we can never know all the initial conditions of a complex system in sufficient (i.e. perfect) detail, we cannot hope to predict the ultimate fate of a complex system. Even slight errors in measuring the state of a system will be amplified dramatically, rendering any prediction useless. Since it is impossible to measure the effects of all the butterflies (etc) in the world, accurate long-range weather prediction will always remain impossible.
Order / Disorder: Chaos is not simply disorder. Chaos explores the transitions between order and disorder, which often occur in surprising ways.
Mixing: Turbulence ensures that two adjacent points in a complex system will eventually end up in very different positions after some time has elapsed.
Fractals: A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos. Geometrically, they exist in between our familiar dimensions. Fractal patterns are extremely familiar, since nature is full of fractals. For instance: trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, seashells, hurricanes, etc.
Who said math can’t be interesting?
Fractals like these can seem too perfect to be true, but they occur in
nature and plants all the time and are examples of math, physics, and
natural selection at work!
When we see order in the world, we think
it must be some human hand that made it so. But Galileo Galilei in his
Il Saggiatore wrote, “[The universe] is written in the language of
mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other
geometric figures.” There is order in nature, and artists who want to
reproduce it faithfully spend hours studying nature’s forms.