Why do similar patterns and forms appear in settings that seem to bear no relation to one another? The windblown ripples of desert sand follow a sinuous course that resembles the stripes of a zebra or a marine fish. We see the same architectural angles in the trellis-like shells of microscopic sea creatures as in the bubble walls of a foam. The forks of lightning mirror the branches of a river or a tree.
This book explains why there is more than coincidence in this conjunction of forms and structures. Nature commonly weaves its tapestry by self-organization, employing no master plan or blueprint but instead simple, local interactions between its component parts – whether they be grains of sand, diffusing molecules or living cells. And the products of self-organization are typically universal patterns: spirals, spots, stripes, branches, honeycombs.
In non-technical language and with profuse illustrations, The Self-Made Tapestry tells how nature’s patterns are made.
Oxford University Press Hard Back 295 pages (1998) ISBN 0-19-850244-3
A complete rewrite and update of this book has now been published under the title ‘Reviews: NATURE’S PATTERNS: A Tapestry in Three Parts.