Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Lily Blooming Mechanics

PostedApril 24, 2011

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Randy Atkins: Surprisingly, the way flowers bloom was a bit of a mystery. So Harvard professor Mahadevan, an applied mathematician, looked at it with an engineer’s eye and noticed the wrinkled edges on lily petals. Then he peeled back an un-bloomed bud and…

Prof. Mahadevan: …found that the petals start to have wrinkled edges even before they have been exposed, suggesting that the edges are growing earlier than the rest of the petal.

Randy Atkins: Mahadevan proved this with experiments and showed that this uneven growth causes petals to break away from the bud.

Prof. Mahadevan: Our explanation transcends the specific instance of the blooming flower.

Randy Atkins: So it may provide ideas for useful new engineering designs. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.