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Escape into microscopic worlds.
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Ornithologist Richard Prum shares his knowledge of the natural math of feather patterning. Simple feather patterns can be predicted using mathematical models called Turing reaction-diffusion equations. As a feather grows, each new cell must decide whether it will receive pigment or not, depending on overlapping chemical gradients and the pigmentation of neighboring cells. Richard Prum is the William Robertson Coe Professor of ornithology, and head curator of vertebrate zoology at the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University.