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.
"Highly recommended. Ball is an inspired generalist who is able to take different intellectual and academic perspectives, as well as wildly divergent natural phenomena, and weave them into a coherent tapestry that will serve the professional and the casual reader alike. The writing is both precise and readable, and the generous illustrations are fascinating, informative, and consistently well done. Although a number of works like this have been published in recent years, few have been of similar quality. These three volumes are a worthwhile addition to any library collection."--Choice
"Provide[s] a window into all that's fascinating in nature, skimming from pattern to pattern in prose and history, shedding light on the physical and chemical forces behind nature's tapestry without losing readers in the math." --Seed Magazine