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Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature

Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature

Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature

Philip Ball

Oxford University Press, USA
296 pages
Rp 275,000
Disk: 10 %
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The magnificent patterns and forms created by nature, and their origins, are examined here.
Publishers Weekly

Most people--including most scientists--take it as a given that the appearance of complex patterns implies conscious planning on the part of an intelligent agent or, in the case of such patterns in the biological world, the stringent application of the forces of natural selection. Ball (Designing the Molecular World) challenges these assumptions directly, documenting the counterintuitive idea that the operation of simple physical laws often yields complex and beautiful, but wholly natural, patterns. Ball's range is quite impressive. He discusses pattern formation on the hides of zebras, giraffes and leopards; the creation of honeycombs by bees; the uncanny similarities between branching patterns in plants and mineral dendrites of magnesium oxide. Ball also demonstrates how the same physical laws can operate on dramatically different scales: the same pattern of wave propagation has been found both in newly fertilized frog eggs and in nascent spiral galaxies. Despite fascinating material such as that, Ball's text is highly technical and often abstruse--so much so that it may prove inaccessible to most nonscientists--other than the comprehensible captions on the more than 400 photographs and line drawings (24 in color), that is, which make this a book that's at least worthy browsing for general readers. (Nov.)


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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