Flow: Nature's Patterns: A Tapestry In Three Parts

Philip Ball

Patterns are everywhere in nature--in the ranks of clouds in the sky, the stripes of an angelfish, the arrangement of petals in flowers. Where does this order and regularity come from? As Philip Ball reveals in Nature's Patterns: A Tapestry in Three Parts, this order creates itself. The patterns we see come from self-organization. Indeed, scientists have found that there is a pattern-forming tendency inherent in the basic structure and processes of nature, whether living or non-living, so that from a few simple themes, and the repetition of simple rules, endless beautiful variations can arise. The second volume in this trilogy of books on patterns in nature, Flow explores the elusive rules that govern the science of chaotic behavior. From the swirl of a wisp of smoke to the huge persistent storm system that is the Great Spot on Jupiter, Ball explains the mechanisms at play whenever things flow, and how these give rise to many of the patterns we recognize in Nature--from ripples on a beach to swirling galaxies. The book describes fascinating phenomena such as turbulence, which still defies complete scientific understanding; the principles of symmetry-breaking; and how chaotic behavior emerges in systems. It also looks at how patterns of flow have captivated philosophers and artists for centuries, from Leonardo da Vinci to the movement of Art Nouveau.

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