..... Stumper Index
Stumper #34.
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How Good Is Your Science KQ?

[i.e. your Knowledge Quotient]

What's In A Pattern?

People are both consciously and unconsciously tuned in to patterns - rhythms, intervals, and repetitions. For a newborn baby the rhythm of a mother's heartbeat is reassuring and soothing. The familiar routines of daily living affect our biorhythms and they also help us to maintain a sense of rightness in our lives. The sun comes up every morning, and the length of daylight affects our physiology; we turn on the faucet and water comes out as a swift, clear stream; apple tastes like apple; and so forth. Pattern recognition is a basic and important skill.

The recognition of patterns in nature is one of the ways in which understandings develop. In the 1950s the scientist Francis Crick showed another scientist, James Watson, how to recognize those patterns in x-ray photographs of crystals that were clues to the basic crystalline structure. Watson, chancing to see an x-ray photograph taken by Rosalind Franklin (another scientist) recognized a pattern that led to the realization of the molecular structure of DNA.

Another example of pattern recognition that has had enormous influence in science was the work of Dmitri Mendeleev who saw patterns in the chemistry of elements that led him to create the periodic table of elements, His knowledge of these patterns enabled him to correct some supposed facts as errors because they did not fit a pattern. By examining his pattern he and other scientists were able to predict the existence of elements not yet discovered.

Much of mathematics has developed in ways driven by the recognition of number patterns, and discoveries in astronomy have often occurred when an astronomer noticed a disturbance in a familiar pattern of stars. This stumper challenges you to examine the patterns in four images.


The Stumper Questions:

i) Which of these images, if any, is a photograph of something that occurs in nature?

ii) What observation helped you to decide. Did you identify any of the images?

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