A Valentine’s Day Surprise
February 14, 2008 — Christopher Carlson, Technical Communication & Strategy
Search for “heart” on any image search engine and you’ll turn up a wide variety of forms from squat to tall, geometric to curvaceous, all recognizable as heart shapes. In order to explore those possibilities, I wanted to capture the essence of the heart shape in a Mathematica Demonstration that had the smallest possible number of controls, but would nevertheless let me recreate most any heart I ran across. I found that three circular arcs strung together and reflected about the vertical sufficed to capture the essence of “heartness”. The result is the Demonstration “Sweet Heart“.
The Demonstration is underconstrained, giving you the freedom to explore hearts as well as a large number of forms that are not even remotely heart-like. But that freedom is good. If there were interesting surprises lurking in those un-heart-like forms, I didn’t want to exclude them a priori. Indeed, while exploring near the boundaries where hearts dissolve into non-hearts, I stumbled onto two different ways of making hearts within hearts–from three simple arcs. I wouldn’t have thought it possible. That’s a nice Valentine’s Day surprise.