Patterns in Nature--No Assembly Required?

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Science  04 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5420, pp. 1627-1628
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5420.1627

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The Self-Made Tapestry Pattern Formation in Nature. Philip Ball. Oxford University Press, New York, 1999. 295 pp. $37.50, £18.99. ISBN 0-19-850244-3. Paper, £8.99, ISBN 0-19-850243-5.

In this profusely illustrated book, Ball explains how self-organization--involving simple, local interactions among components--can produce similar natural patterns and forms in settings that seem completely unrelated. He draws on examples ranging from bacteria, through shells, trees, dunes, and urban sprawl, to the atmosphere of Jupiter.