The self-made tapestry
Posted by cienciayficcion en 21/09/2010
- Ball, Philip: The self-made tapestry : pattern formation in nature. Oxford [etc.] : Oxford University Press, 2004
Why do similar patterns and forms appear in nature in settings that seem to bear no relation to one another? The windblown ripples of desert sand follow a sinuous course that resemles the stripes of a zebra or a marine fish. In the trellis-like shells of microscopic sea creatures we see the same angles and intersections as for bubble walls in a foam. The forks of lightning mirror the branches of a river or a tree. This book explains why these are no coincidences. Nature commonly weaves its tapestry by self-organization, employing no master plan or blueprint but by simple, local interactions between its component parts – be they grains of sand, diffusing molecules or living cells – give rise to spontaneous patters that are at the same time complex and beautiful. Many of these patterns are universal: spirals, spots, and stripes, branches, honeycombs. Philip Ball conducts a profusely illustrated tour of this gallery, and reveals the secrets of how nature’s patterns are made.