Flow

Author: Philip Ball
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199604876
Release Date: 2011-05-26
Genre: Art

Philip Ball explores the elusive rules that govern flow in nature - from the swirl of a wisp of smoke and eddies in rivers, to the huge persistent storm that is the Great Spot on Jupiter. Whether the movement of wind, water, sand, or flocks of birds, he explains the science of the extraordinary forms and patterns that emerge.

Patterns in Nature

Author: Philip Ball
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226332567
Release Date: 2016-04-05
Genre: Nature

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.

Curiosity

Author: Philip Ball
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226045825
Release Date: 2013-04-03
Genre: Science

With the recent landing of the Mars rover Curiosity, it seems safe to assume that the idea of being curious is alive and well in modern science—that it’s not merely encouraged but is seen as an essential component of the scientific mission. Yet there was a time when curiosity was condemned. Neither Pandora nor Eve could resist the dangerous allure of unanswered questions, and all knowledge wasn’t equal—for millennia it was believed that there were some things we should not try to know. In the late sixteenth century this attitude began to change dramatically, and in Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything, Philip Ball investigates how curiosity first became sanctioned—when it changed from a vice to a virtue and how it became permissible to ask any and every question about the world. Looking closely at the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, Ball vividly brings to life the age when modern science began, a time that spans the lives of Galileo and Isaac Newton. In this entertaining and illuminating account of the rise of science as we know it, Ball tells of scientists both legendary and lesser known, from Copernicus and Kepler to Robert Boyle, as well as the inventions and technologies that were inspired by curiosity itself, such as the telescope and the microscope. The so-called Scientific Revolution is often told as a story of great geniuses illuminating the world with flashes of inspiration. But Curiosity reveals a more complex story, in which the liberation—and subsequent taming—of curiosity was linked to magic, religion, literature, travel, trade, and empire. Ball also asks what has become of curiosity today: how it functions in science, how it is spun and packaged for consumption, how well it is being sustained, and how the changing shape of science influences the kinds of questions it may continue to ask. Though proverbial wisdom tell us that it was through curiosity that our innocence was lost, that has not deterred us. Instead, it has been completely the contrary: today we spend vast sums trying to reconstruct the first instants of creation in particle accelerators, out of a pure desire to know. Ball refuses to let us take this desire for granted, and this book is a perfect homage to such an inquisitive attitude.

The Self made Tapestry

Author: Philip Ball
Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand
ISBN: 0198502435
Release Date: 1999
Genre: Science

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. l This book explains why these are no coincidences. Nature commonly weavesits 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.

Made to Measure

Author: Philip Ball
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691009759
Release Date: 1999
Genre: Science

This text describes how scientists are inventing thousands of materials, ranging from synthetic skin, blood and bone, to substances that repair themselves and adapt to their environment. It outlines how newly-invented materials will transform our lives in the 21st century.

Branches Nature s Patterns A Tapestry in Three Parts

Author: Philip Ball
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780199237982
Release Date: 2009-09-10
Genre: Science

As part of a trilogy of books exploring the science of patterns in nature, acclaimed science writer Philip Ball here looks at the form and growth of branching networks in the natural world, and what we can learn from them. Many patterns in nature show a branching form - trees, river deltas, blood vessels, lightning, the cracks that form in the glazing of pots. These networks share a peculiar geometry, finding a compromise between disorder and determinism, though some, like the hexagonal snowflake or the stones of the Devil's Causeway fall into a rigidly ordered structure. Branching networks are found at every level in biology - from the single cell to the ecosystem. Human-made networks too can come to share the same features, and if they don't, then it might be profitable to make them do so: nature's patterns tend to arise from economical solutions.

A Mathematical Nature Walk

Author: John A. Adam
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400832903
Release Date: 2011-09-12
Genre: Nature

How heavy is that cloud? Why can you see farther in rain than in fog? Why are the droplets on that spider web spaced apart so evenly? If you have ever asked questions like these while outdoors, and wondered how you might figure out the answers, this is a book for you. An entertaining and informative collection of fascinating puzzles from the natural world around us, A Mathematical Nature Walk will delight anyone who loves nature or math or both. John Adam presents ninety-six questions about many common natural phenomena--and a few uncommon ones--and then shows how to answer them using mostly basic mathematics. Can you weigh a pumpkin just by carefully looking at it? Why can you see farther in rain than in fog? What causes the variations in the colors of butterfly wings, bird feathers, and oil slicks? And why are large haystacks prone to spontaneous combustion? These are just a few of the questions you'll find inside. Many of the problems are illustrated with photos and drawings, and the book also has answers, a glossary of terms, and a list of some of the patterns found in nature. About a quarter of the questions can be answered with arithmetic, and many of the rest require only precalculus. But regardless of math background, readers will learn from the informal descriptions of the problems and gain a new appreciation of the beauty of nature and the mathematics that lies behind it.

What Shape is a Snowflake

Author: Ian Stewart
Publisher:
ISBN: 0297607235
Release Date: 2001
Genre: Mathematics in nature

An enlightening vision of how the laws of mathematics find organic expression in the beauty and patterns of nature, written by an acclaimed mathematician and science writer.

Chaos A Very Short Introduction

Author: Leonard Smith
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780191579431
Release Date: 2007-02-22
Genre: Science

Chaos exists in systems all around us. Even the simplest system of cause and effect can be subject to chaos, denying us accurate predictions of its behaviour, and sometimes giving rise to astonishing structures of large-scale order. Our growing understanding of Chaos Theory is having fascinating applications in the real world - from technology to global warming, politics, human behaviour, and even gambling on the stock market. Leonard Smith shows that we all have an intuitive understanding of chaotic systems. He uses accessible maths and physics (replacing complex equations with simple examples like pendulums, railway lines, and tossing coins) to explain the theory, and points to numerous examples in philosophy and literature (Edgar Allen Poe, Chang-Tzu, Arthur Conan Doyle) that illuminate the problems. The beauty of fractal patterns and their relation to chaos, as well as the history of chaos, and its uses in the real world and implications for the philosophy of science are all discussed in this Very Short Introduction. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Structural Intuitions

Author: Martin Kemp
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
ISBN: 9780813936994
Release Date: 2016-03-08
Genre: Art

"All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge," wrote Albert Einstein. In Structural Intuitions, a fascinating exploration of the commonalities between two seemingly disparate realms, renowned art historian Martin Kemp applies Einstein's notion both to science and to art. Kemp argues that in both fields, work begins at the intuitive level, curiosity aroused by our recognition of patterns or order. Kemp's "structural intuitions," then, are the ways we engage fundamental perceptual and cognitive mechanisms to bring order to our observed world. Through stimulating juxtaposition, Kemp considers connections between naturally occurring patterns, cognitive processes, and artistic and scientific expression, drawing on an array of examples from the Renaissance through the present. Taking a broadly historical approach, Kemp examines forms and processes such as the geometry of Platonic solids, the dynamics of growth, and the patterns of fluids in motion, while placing the work of contemporary artists, engineers, and scientists in dialogue with that of visionaries such as Leonardo da Vinci and D'Arcy Thompson. Richly illustrated, lucidly written, and wonderfully thought-provoking, Structural Intuitions is essential reading for anyone seeking insight into common ground in the arts and sciences.