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Picasso, pottery and plants: Hidden rules governing the development of natural forms

Prize lecture

Event video


18:30 - 19:30


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Croonian Lecture 2016 by Professor Enrico Coen CBE FRS


The natural shapes we see in a vase of flowers or bed of roses are a constant source of fascination and joy.  They inspire our designs, from doodles on a pad to the masterpieces of pottery and painting. Yet unlike our creations, there is no external hand guiding the formation of a flower or leaf; they build themselves.

Join Professor Enrico Coen to discover how recent advances in 3D imaging, molecular genetics and computational modelling reveal the rules by which plants self-construct.  Witness tissues deforming and contorting themselves into beautiful shapes, through material growing, pushing and pulling against itself.  Be amazed by the hidden fields of polarity that guide growth, from snapdragon flowers to the lethal traps of bladderworts.  Finally see how our new understanding is providing fresh inspiration for the creativity of potters and glassblowers. 

This prize lecture is the premier lecture in the biological sciences. It is delivered annually at the Royal Society in London and is accompanied by a medal and a gift of £10,000. The lectureship was conceived by William Croone FRS (PDF), one of the original Fellows of the Society. The lecture series began in 1738.

For all enquiries, please contact the Events Team.

Picasso, pottery and plants: Hidden rules governing the development of natural forms Croonian Lecture 2016 given by Professor Enrico Coen CBE FRS The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK
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