Appreciating math details in the outside world

By Diana Davis
Last spring, I spent a few months reading and understanding a paper about regular octagons. I spent so much time looking at octagons, drawing octagons, and thinking about octagons, that I started noticing them in my everyday life, where I hadn’t noticed them before. For example, gazebos are usually octagonal:

Has your research led you to notice anything different about the world? (Keep reading for more pictures of octagonal structures.)

Most lighthouses are also octagonal. Here is one I saw on Block Island this past fall:

In Providence, octagons are very common in houses. Some just have octagonal rooms on one level, like these neighboring houses with matching turrets:

Other houses have octagonal rooms the entire height of the house:

My research has moved on from regular octagons, but I still notice them as I walk around during the day. Has your research (or your graduate math courses, etc.) led you to notice anything in the outside world that you didn’t notice before?

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