Why do cauliflowers look so odd? We’ve cracked the maths behind their shape

After 12 years of research, three scientists have discovered why the self-similarity of the vegetables is unique

18 July 2021 - 19:03 By Etienne Farcot

Have you ever stared at a cauliflower before preparing it and got lost in its stunningly beautiful pattern? Probably not, if you are in your right mind, but I reassure you it’s worth a try. What you’ll find is that what at first sight looks like an amorphous blob has a striking regularity.

If you take a good look, you will see that the many florets look alike and are composed of miniature versions of themselves. In maths, we call this property self-similarity, which is a defining feature of abstract geometrical objects called fractals (https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-are-fractals-10865). But why do cauliflowers have this property? Our new study, published in Science (https://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.abg5999), has an answer...

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