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In the plane, when an object rotates about a fixed point while simultaneously moving away from that point, it traces out a spiral path that constantly curves outward. Rope is often coiled in this manner on a boat’s flat deck. A spiral path can also begin far away from a fixed point when an object rotates about that point while moving ever closer to that point. Think of the tightly wound head of an emerging fern.
In space, a spiral path is traced by an object that rotates about a fixed axis while moving away from that axis, and has the additional freedom to move upward, like a waterspout, or like the ridges of a screw traveling from tip to head. A spiral path can even begin at a point and rotate while moving outward and upward, and then, reaching the widest distance from its axis, spiral inward about the same axis while continuing its upward journey. This is the path of a theoretical ship that travels the globe from south pole to north pole with its compass always at a fixed angle to the globe’s meridians; the path is called a loxodrome, or rhumb. In space, the artist has the freedom to create a spiral path about one axis, then have the curve turn to spiral about a different axis.
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