“What do trees know that we don’t? 13-year-old inventor Aidan realized that trees use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight in crowded forests. Then he wondered why we don’t collect solar energy in the same way.”
Well no, trees do not use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight any more that a flying squirrel uses geometry to plot its course as it jumps from tree to tree. However mathematical formulas can be used to describe how both are done. Trees do not know anything, they just follow the plan that came from their seed as they grew. The plan which I believe that was put there by God.
This is an example of putting the carriage before the horse, the act was done, e.g., the squirrel jumped and landed, and then the math was computed showing how the squirrel use aerodynamic trajectory, gravity, air friction, geometry, etc., into a math formal to explain in a model what the squirrel did, but the squirrel did none of this, it just came and used its experience to guide it. In the same manner a baseball pitcher can put the ball over the plate, without doing anything other that using past throws (practice) to guide this pitch.
This is not in any way belittle what this 13 year old has deducted from the arrangement of limbs on a tree that enhance its ability to collect sunlight and applying that to solar panel ornaments. I wish that was near as smart. It is just to correct a common misconception. The fact is nature does not use math, man uses math to explain nature in a manner to help him understand it.