NEW research has revealed a universal mathematical formula that can describe any bird’s egg existing in nature – a feat that has eluded science until now.

Egg-shape has long attracted mathematicians, engineers, and biologists from an analytical point of view.

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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 10,500 species that have survived since the dinosaurs.

The egg has been described as the “perfect shape”.

Researchers from Kent’s School of Biosciences, the Research Institute for Environment Treatment (Ukraine) and Vita-Market Ltd worked together on the research.

Universal formula

They developed a universal mathematical formula for egg shape based on four parameters:

  • Egg length
  • Maximum breadth
  • Shift of the vertical axis
  • 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,” researchers said.

This new formula is an important breakthrough with multiple applications, including:

  1. Competent scientific description of a biological object. Now that an egg can be described via mathematical formula, work in fields of biological systematics, optimization of technological parameters, egg incubation and selection of poultry will be greatly simplified.
  2. Accurate and simple determination of the physical characteristics of a biological object. The external properties of an egg are vital for researchers and engineers who develop technologies for incubating, processing, storing and sorting eggs. There is a need for a simple identification process using egg volume, surface area, the radius of curvature and other indicators for describing the contours of the egg, which this formula provides.
  3. Future biology-inspired engineering. The egg is a natural biological system studied to design engineering systems and state-of-the-art technologies. The egg-shaped geometric figure is adopted in architecture, such as London City Hall’s roof and the Gherkin, and construction as it can withstand maximum loads with a minimum consumption of materials, to which this formula can now be easily applied.

Dr Michael Romanov, visiting researcher at Kent, said: ‘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.’

The paper ‘Egg and math: introducing a universal formula for egg shape’ is published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences