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The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in…

The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature

by Philip Ball

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Philip ball provides a comprehensive overview of the Emergent phenomenon of pattern formation in nature.

His discussions range from the physical processes like the minimal surfaces in bubbles and foams, BZ reactions, convection cells, mineral dendrite formations, branching of rivers to the very similar patterns formed in the biological systems like the pattern formation on the hides of zebras and giraffes, branching patterns in trees, retinal nerves etc., and the patterns in communities of animals and humans He finally concludes with a chapter on the general principles governing pattern formation. Why do so many different physical phenomenon produce very similar patterns?

One theme we can see throughout this book is an argument against the gene-centric reductionism in modern biology. That the presence of some frequently repeating mathematical patterns in the nature like reaction-diffusion systems, fractals, spirals that can be generated by Fibonacci ratios, suggests some physical determinism in morphogenesis.

Highly recommended. some beautiful illustrations are provided and the author assumes no previous knowledge on the part of the reader. ( )
  kasyapa | Oct 9, 2017 |
Re-published 2011 in 3 vols - "Shapes", "Forms", ?

"Translation of 'Shapes. Nature's Patterns: a tapestry of three parts, part 1' (Oxford University Press NY 2009)

" was a hit with designers."
  kgreply | Aug 5, 2016 |
In some sense a modern update of D'Arcy's book "Of growth and form", but expanded to structures encountered in the physical world. Reminds us that much of the 'design' we see us is the beuatiful result of blind physical laws. Brilliantly researched, written and illustrated. ( )
  yapete | Jun 1, 2008 |
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"an interdisciplinary look at the patterns in the world around us, be they formed by the elements, flora, fauna, or humans. [...] this work does a remarkable job of presenting the hows and whys."
added by wademlee | editLibrary Journal, Wade Lee
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0198502435, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:19 -0400)

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