Why does nature create patterns? A physicist explains the molecular-level processes behind crystals, stripes and basalt columns

pema href="https://theconversation.com/us/topics/curious-kids-us-74795"Curious Kids/a is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to a href="mailto:curiouskidsus@theconversation.com"curiouskidsus@theconversation.com/a./em/p hr blockquote pstrongWhy does nature always create a pattern? – Saloni G., age 16, Alwar, Rajasthan, India/strong/p /blockquote hr pThe reason patterns often appear in nature is simple: The same basic physical or chemical processes occur in many patterned substances and organisms as they form. Whether in plants and animals or rocks, foams and ice crystals, the intricate patterns that happen in nature come down to what’s happening at the level of atoms and molecules./p pA pattern in nature is any regularly repeated arrangement of shapes or colors. Some of the most striking examples include the hexagonal arrays of rocks at Giant’s Causeway in the United Kingdom, the beautiful fractal arrangements of florets on a Romanesco broccoli and the colorful stripes and spots on tropical fish./p