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A Thing of Wonder
By Sharon Slaughter

     Beings of similar kind as she have placed their handiwork almost everywhere—so it would seem to humans who find themselves ensnared desperately attempting to remove the transparent wrapping. Her home is a weather pot hanging from an awning that shelters the back door. She likes her home as it is warm and dry. After dark when all is quiet she drops from the weather pot and within an hour spins a beautiful work. Then she waits for a meal of blood. She is a common Garden Spider.

     Each night after she drops from the weather pot the garden spider darts here and there as if she had No plan; however, this irresponsible way of working produces a beautiful web which no artist could have drawn better. Once the spokes are in place the garden spider divides the area of her web into a large number of equal parts which is the same in the work of each species of spider. Parts of the angular spiral chords made by the spider are parallel to one another and slowly the parts draw closer together as they near the center. The two radiating lines that frame the various parts form obtuse angles on one side and acute angles on the other. These angles remain constant in the same sector, because the chords are parallel. The obtuse and acute angles do not alter in value from one sector to another as far as the eye can see. The spiral consists of a series of cross-bars intersecting the several radiating lines obliquely at angles of equal value. 

     This characteristic is recognized by geometricians as the "logarithmic spiral". The logarithmic spiral describes an endless number of circuits around it's pole, to which it constantly draws nearer without ever being able to reach it. Although it exists only in the imagination of scientists the spider knows it and creates her spiral in the same way. The spider practices high geometry without knowing or caring.

     It would seem that the logarithmic spiral is a method of construction employed by animals in their architecture. For example, the Mollusk doesn't make it's shell without reference to the scientific curve of the spiral. The spiral has been found in the shells of fossils. Even the snail's shell is made using logarithmic laws. Geometricians studying the curve have given it such a complicated numeral that it is simply expressed as the letter "e". What seems something of no unimportance gets complicated when examined with calculation. 

     The science of harmony in space (geometry) rules over everything. It is even found in the placement of scales on a fir-cone as well as in the orbit of a planet. Is it true that the older a person gets the greater must be a thing to bring amazement, awe, and wonder? This writer doesn't know the answer to the question for anyone except herself, but I am awe struck by the complicated beauty of what I see on early dewy mornings. Take a dewy morning walk and enjoy!

© 2001 Sharon Slaughter All Rights Reserved


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