South African Skeptics

Book by Philip Ball

Barryl · 1 · 3012

Offline Barryl

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Book   THE SELF-MADE TAPESTRY  Pattern formation in nature by Philip Ball

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 resembles the stripes of a zebra or a marine fish. In the trellis-like shells of microscopic sea creatures we see the same geometry as in the bubble walls of foam. Forks of lightning mirror the branches of a river network or a tree.

This book explains why these are not coincidences. Nature commonly weaves its tapestry without any master plan or blueprint. Instead these designs build themselves by self-organization. The interactions between the component parts – whether they be grains of sand, molecules or living cells – give rise to spontaneous patterns that are at the same time complex and beautiful. Many of these patterns are universal, recurring again and again in the natural order: spirals, spots, stripes, branches, honeycombs. Philip Ball conducts a profusely illustrated tour of this gallery, and reveals the secrets of how nature's patterns are made.

Like Sir Ghillean Prance comments: "It has brought new life to the froth of my beer, the waves on the rough seas of Dorset's coast, or even the patterns as I stir a cup of coffee."

And for me: Another metaphorical nail in the coffin of an imagined "Creator"
Freethought is the only kind of thought there is.
If it is not free, it is not thought at all.