Unit 5

Biological Branching Patterns

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5.1 Bacterial Colonies

5.2 - Termite Nesting and Foraging in Two Dimensions

5.3 - Fractal Root Systems

5.4 - Research Projects

Current science research has no boundaries and knows no limits. Scientists find fractals everywhere and follow the trail of these fascinating patterns across many sciences: physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and earth science. In this unit we do the same, tracing the rough edges of bacterial colonies, the scraggly outlines of termite tunnels, and the spread of root systems. Earlier units have shown that physical and chemical systems, formed and driven by random processes, can be very dynamic. Are living systems even more dynamic? Do patterns created by bacteria, termites, and ants result from their social nature, or are these patterns, too, the result of random processes? We try to answer these questions by applying the analysis of previous units.

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