Patterns In Nature: Why The Natural World Looks The Way It Does

Hardcover | April 5, 2016

byPhilip Ball

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Though at first glance the natural world may appear overwhelming in its diversity and complexity, there are regularities running through it, from the hexagons of a honeycomb to the spirals of a seashell and the branching veins of a leaf. Revealing the order at the foundation of the seemingly chaotic natural world, Patterns in Nature explores not only the math and science but also the beauty and artistry behind nature’s awe-inspiring designs.

Unlike the patterns we create in technology, architecture, and art, natural patterns are formed spontaneously from the forces that act in the physical world. Very often the same types of pattern and form – spirals, stripes, branches, and fractals, say—recur in places that seem to have nothing in common, as when the markings of a zebra mimic the ripples in windblown sand. That’s because, as Patterns in Nature shows, at the most basic level these patterns can often be described using the same mathematical and physical principles: there is a surprising underlying unity in the kaleidoscope of the natural world. Richly illustrated with 250 color photographs and anchored by accessible and insightful chapters by esteemed science writer Philip Ball, Patterns in Nature reveals the organization at work in vast and ancient forests, powerful rivers, massing clouds, and coastlines carved out by the sea.
 
By exploring similarities such as those between a snail shell and the swirling stars of a galaxy, or the branches of a tree and those of a river network, this spectacular visual tour conveys the wonder, beauty, and richness of natural pattern formation.

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Though at first glance the natural world may appear overwhelming in its diversity and complexity, there are regularities running through it, from the hexagons of a honeycomb to the spirals of a seashell and the branching veins of a leaf. Revealing the order at the foundation of the seemingly chaotic natural world, Patterns in Nature ex...

A renowned science writer, Philip Ball lives in London. He worked for over twenty years as an editor for Nature, writes regularly in the scientific and popular media, and has authored many books on the interactions of the sciences, the arts, and the wider culture. His most recent books include Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Uns...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 10 × 8.5 × 1.1 inPublished:April 5, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022633242X

ISBN - 13:9780226332420

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“Acclaimed English science writer Ball curates a visually striking, riotously colorful photographic display of the most dramatic examples of the ‘sheer splendor’ of physical patterns in the natural world. He lightly ties the work together with snippets of scientific history, using bits of physics, chemistry, and mathematics to show that although patterns in living beings can offer clear, functional evolutionary advantages, the small set of design elements that we can see—symmetries, branching fractals, spirals, flowing swirls, spots, and stripes—come from a basic set of organizing properties of growth and equilibrium seeking. . . . This is formidable eye candy for the I-love-science crowd, sure to spark a sense of impressed wonder at the beauty of our universe and our ability to photograph it.”