The Self-Made Tapestry

At a recent book exchange, I gave away a copy of The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature., by Philip Ball, an editor for Nature.
The book covers the structure and development of patterns in nature: bubbles, waves, animal and plant bodies, branching patterns in trees and rivers, convection patterns in boiling water on a scale of minutes and in the earth’s crust on a scale of millions of years.
The book has good, detailed explanations; history of the scientific concepts, and beautiful pictures. It doesn’t have enough math and computation for my taste, though. It seemed to me that a small amount of not-particurlarly advanced math or modeling would make the points more clearly. The book mentioned several times that the phenomena were modelled by cellular automata. I’d be curious to find out how. The book has references to the scientific papers, so one could look the works up in the original, should one have the time and/or skill.
It is a good complement to The Computational Beauty of Nature, which has overlapping subject matter, covers a narrower range of patterns, and explains the basic math behind the concepts.
I bought the book at “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”, an independent bookstore in San Francisco. I’d never been there before, and it was very impressive that they had it in stock. Oxford University Press, paperback 2001. I definitely got the impression that the books were selected by humans rather than best-seller algorithms.

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