How the Lily Blooms

Mathematicians reveal that ruffling at the edge of each petal drives the delicate flower to open.

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His previous research, often inspired by beauty in nature, has investigated questions such as how snakes slither and how the Venus fly trap snaps its jaws.

The question of how the lily blooms, Mahadevan says, "is just one more small instance of being inspired by and curious about the natural world around us, a subject that fascinates us all, child and adult alike."

The research also has immediate practical applications in materials science involving thin films and elastic sheets, and it may affect the development of devices such as sensors and actuators that mimic the mechanism of blooming.

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