Synopses & Reviews
The variety of sizes, shapes, and irregularities in nature is endless. Through illustrations and text, the authors of The Parsimonious Universe describe the efforts by scientists and mathematicians since the Renaissance to identify and describe the basic laws underlying the shape of natural forms. Can one set of laws account for both the symmetry and irregularity as well as the infinite variety of nature's designs? Complete answers to these questions are likely novel to be discovered. Still, down through the ages, the investigation of form and pattern in nature has yielded some fascinating and surprising insights. Out of this inquiry comes a specific branch of mathematics - the calculus of variations - which explores questions of optimization (finding designs that maximize or minimize a particular quantity).
Synopsis
Why does nature prefer some shapes and not others? The variety of sizes, shapes, and irregularities in nature is endless. Skillfully integrating striking full-color illustrations, the authors describe the efforts by scientists and mathematicians since the Renaissance to identify and describe the principles underlying the shape of natural forms. But can one set of laws account for both the symmetry and irregularity as well as the infinite variety of nature's designs? A complete answer to this question is likely never to be discovered. Yet, it is fascinating to see how the search for some simple universal laws down through the ages has increased our understanding of nature. The Parsimonious Universe looks at examples from the world around us at a non-mathematical, non-technical level to show that nature achieves efficiency by being stingy with the energy it expends.
Description
Includes bibliographical references (p. 305-317) and index.