Researchers solve universal equation for the shape of an egg

Image: Pixabay

Researchers have discovered a universal mathematical formula that can describe any bird’s egg existing in nature, a significant step in understanding not only the egg shape itself, but also how and why it evolved, making widespread biological and technological applications possible.

Researchers from the University of Kent, the Research Institute for Environment Treatment and Vita-Market Ltd have discovered a universal mathematical formula that can describe any bird’s egg existing in nature, a feat which has been unsuccessful until now.

Egg-shape has long attracted the attention of mathematicians, engineers, and biologists from an analytical point of view. The shape has been highly regarded for its evolution as large enough to incubate an embryo, small enough to exit the body in the most efficient way, not roll away once laid, is structurally sound enough to bear weight and be the beginning of life for so many species. The egg has been called the “perfect shape.”

Analysis of all egg shapes used four geometric figures: sphere, ellipsoid, ovoid, and pyriform – conical or pear-shaped – with a mathematical formula for the pyriform yet to be derived.

To rectify this, researchers introduced an additional function into the ovoid formula, developing a mathematical model to fit a completely novel geometric shape characterized as the last stage in the evolution of the sphere-ellipsoid, which it is applicable to any egg geometry.

This new universal mathematical formula for egg shape is based on four parameters: egg length, maximum breadth, shift of the vertical axis, and the diameter at one quarter of the egg length.

This long sought-for universal formula is a significant step in understanding not only the egg shape itself, but also how and why it evolved, thus making widespread biological and technological applications possible.

Mathematical descriptions of all basic egg shapes have already found applications in food research, mechanical engineering, agriculture, biosciences, architecture and aeronautics. As an example, this formula can be applied to engineering construction of thin walled vessels of an egg shape, which should be stronger than typical spherical ones.

Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics in the University of Kent and PI on the research, said, “Biological evolutionary processes such as egg formation must be investigated for mathematical description as a basis for research in evolutionary biology, as demonstrated with this formula. This universal formula can be applied across fundamental disciplines, especially the food and poultry industry, and will serve as an impetus for further investigations inspired by the egg as a research object.”

Dr Michael Romanov, Visiting Researcher at the University of Kent, added, “This mathematical equation underlines our understanding and appreciation of a certain philosophical harmony between mathematics and biology, and from those two a way towards further comprehension of our universe, understood neatly in the shape of an egg.”


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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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