The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature

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9780198502432: The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature

For centuries, scientists have struggled to understand the origins of the patterns and forms found in nature. Now, in this lucid and accessibly written book, Philip Ball applies state-of-the-art scientific understanding from the fields of biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and mathematics to these ancient mysteries, revealing how nature's seemingly complex patterns originate in simple physical laws.
Tracing the history of scientific thought about natural patterns, Ball shows how common presumptions--for example, that complex form must be guided by some intelligence or that form always follows function--are erroneous and continue to mislead scientists today. He investigates specific patterns in depth, revealing that these designs are self-organized and that simple, local interactions between component parts produce motifs like spots, stripes, branches, and honeycombs. In the process, he examines the mysterious phenomenon of symmetry and why it appears--and breaks--in similar ways in different systems. Finally, he attempts to answer this profound question: why are some patterns universal? Illustrations throughout the text, many in full color, beautifully illuminate Ball's ideas.

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Review:

Seashells are often spirals, just like water going down the drain. There must be a connection, right? Our intuition scoffs at such a notion, but maybe they are related, writes Nature editor Philip Ball in The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature. This deep, beautiful exploration of the recurring patterns that we find both in the living and inanimate worlds will change how you think about everything from evolution to earthquakes. Not by any means a simple book, it is still completely engaging; even the occasional forays into mathematics and the abstractions of hydrodynamics are endurable, tucked as they are between Ball's bright prose and his hundreds of carefully selected illustrations.

When speaking of the living world, Ball seeks to go beyond the theory of natural selection, which explains why we see certain characteristics (height, shape, camouflage), to find mechanisms that can explain how such characteristics come to be. Again, this is no easy task, but for those willing to follow his discussion, the elegance of nature is laid out in zebras' stripes, ivy leaves, and butterfly wings. Moving on to find the same patterns at work in the clouds of Jupiter and the cracks in the San Andreas fault give strength to the feeling that there are self-composing structures that guide everything in the universe toward a kind of order. The Self-Made Tapestry is a challenging look at the biggest issues in science, and well worth a thorough read. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:


Philip Ball, an editor at Nature since 1988, has written many scientific articles on all topics for the popular press. His first book, Designing the Molecular World, won the American Association of Publishers award for books on chemistry.

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Ball, Philip
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Descripción 2001. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Paperback. For centuries, scientists have struggled to understand the origins of the patterns and forms found in nature. Now, in this lucid and accessibly written book, Philip Ball appli.Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 456 pages. 0.658. Nº de ref. de la librería 9780198502432

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