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By Nature's Design: An Exploratorium Book (Exploratorium Book Series) Paperback – September 1, 1993
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Chaos theory may be all the rage in the mathematical world, but most people like at least some measure of order in their lives, whether through daily routines or tested methods of getting something done. Writer Pat Murphy and photographer William Neill appeal to our quest for patterns with this book, based on a major exhibit at San Francisco's Exploratorium. Together they puzzle out how pebbles form clusters on the beach, how an ear of corn grows, how mountains and clouds form and how spiders make their webs: how, in short, nature sees to it that things happen in much the same way again and again. The science is simple ("the sleeping cat curls into a ball because this shape offers the least surface area"), and the photographs are both splendid and informative, making this a fine gift for budding young naturalists.
From School Library Journal
YA-A unique book that can be appreciated on many different levels. Murphy begins with the hypothesis that all humans find solace in patterns-in life and in the natural world. He asserts that symmetry in nature brings the world into focus and attempts to use scientific principles to define these design formations. The extraordinary-quality photographs are divided among six chapters with each section prefaced by a fairly concise, scholarly explanation of the theories, both geometrical and mathematical, demonstrated in the pictures. If nothing else, it is a beautiful browsing book. Art and photography students are sure to have their creativity stimulated by the photos, which range from panoramas to zoom shots of minute details. The repetitive designs found throughout are worthy of study. The afterword includes a discussion of camera types, lenses, and film used. While certainly not light reading, By Nature's Design will be of interest to YAs with a feeling for theoretical thinking.
Nancy Filbey, R.E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I used this book when teaching the gifted students math and science. The book is so lovely that many times my students would just read it because of that, not because they were trying to see a concept.
Now I use it as a goal for my personal photography. (I can only hope to be that good someday!)
This is a gorgeous book and well worth the money.
Buy it for yourself, for kids, a classroom, expose yourself to the simple complexity of the forces of nature.
Interested in math and geometry, this book will open a new world to you in understanding the complexities of nature as well as geometry and other sciences to you. Fractals, rectangles, spirals, mathematical computations we all learned in school come alive under the simple and magical words and the gorgeous images by Mr. Neill. I would include this as a text book in any math class, inspiring and opening student's eyes to the possibilities found in nature.
For nature and photo enthusiasts, you will go back to this book time and time again for inspiration and information. It will help you understand why rose petals open as they do, how a drop of water can hold the most volume before it explodes, making yet another geometrical shape. You learn why cactus have spines, how lava cools, cracking in even shapes. A very exciting lesson comes in learning how scientists, after many frustrating centuries, with the help of computers finally came up with a mathematical computation for measuring mountains, coastlines, clouds, fog, the physical and ethereal elements of nature. The chapter on fractals really expands your understanding of the sciences.
Mr. Neill has done a sequel to this book and it is also worth getting, as is anything he touches. He is an inspired and dedicated photographer, who some say is carrying on the work of his mentor, Ansel Adams, but I say he is carving his own unique road, in someways surpassing the master's work.