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Science writer Philip Ball explains what happens when we see a pattern and why — even when there is no pattern to see—our brain will often establish one anyway.

How do we perceive patterns in the shapes and colors around us, and why is it human nature to crave order—with a healthy dose of disorder—in our surroundings? Science writer Philip Ball has penned numerous books on the symbiotic relationship between the mind, the eye and the patterns in our built and natural world. Here, he explains how our minds recognize patterns and why we seek order amid chaos.

How many times does a motif have to repeat for the eye to recognize it as a pattern?

  • Words:
    Julie Cirelli
  • Photography:
    Courtesy Documentary Designs, Inc. d/b/a The Design Library

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  • Words:
    Julie Cirelli
  • Photography:
    Courtesy Documentary Designs, Inc. d/b/a The Design Library
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