Plus Advent Calendar Door #6: Superficiality

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Mouse and elephant

If you need to keep cool it's good to be big.

There are many situations in which it's useful to have a large surface area. If you want to keep cool, for example if you are an African elephant, then the larger your surface area the better. Conversely if you want to keep warm, it is best to make it small — this is why groups of new born birds and animals huddle together into a ball. Similarly, if you are a herd of cattle or a shoal of fish seeking to minimise the opportunities for predators, it is best to minimise the surface that a predator can attack.

So what kind of shapes have the smallest, or largest, possible area, and what other uses in nature do these shapes have? Find out in Superficiality.

Return to the Plus advent calendar 2019.