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Mathematics in Nature:
Modeling Patterns in the Natural World
John A. Adam

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"John Adam's Mathematics in Nature illustrates how, in a friendly and lucid manner, mathematicians think about nature. Adam lets us see how mathematics is not only an ally, but is perhaps the very language that nature uses to express the beautiful. . . . This is a book that will challenge while it intrigues and excites."--Stanley David Gedzelman, Weatherwise

"Although Mathematics in Nature has not been written as a textbook, availability of such a manual shall help instructors who choose this delightful book for teaching a course in applied mathematics or mathematical modeling."--Yuri V. Rogovchenko, Zentralblatt Math

"Spanning a range of mathematical levels, this book can be used as an undergraduate textbook, a source of high school math enrichment, or can be read for pleasure by folks with an appreciation of nature but without advanced mathematical background."--Southeastern Naturalist


"Have you wondered how rainbows or sand dunes form? Does it puzzle you why drying mud forms polygonally shaped cracks? Can you explain the patterns on a butterfly's wings or how birds fly? In this delightful book, John Adam invites us to question and to share his enthusiasm for developing mathematical models to explore a wide range of everyday natural phenomena. Mathematics in Nature can be used as a text on mathematical modeling or as a book to dip into and encourage us to observe and wonder at the beauty of nature. It has the potential of becoming a classic."--Brian Sleeman, University of Leeds

"This is a book that I will want to keep close to hand so that I will not be stumped by all those seemingly simple yet subtle questions about nature: Why can fleas jump so high? Why is visibility better in rain than in fog? Why does a river meander? How high can trees grow? But it is much more than a compendium of useful facts and explanations. It is the clearest guide I have seen to the art of conceptualizing, simplifying, and modeling natural phenomena--no less than an exegesis on how good quantitative science is done."--Phillip Ball, Consultant Editor, Nature

"Mathematics in Nature leads the calculus-literate reader on a vigorous tour of nature's visible patterns--from the radiator-sailed dinosaur Dimetrodon to fracturing of dried mud and ceramic glazes, from the dispersion of rainbows and iridescence of beetles to the pearling of spider silk. Eschewing phenomena that are too small to see or too large to grasp, Adam shows how elementary college mathematics, rigorously applied, can give precise expression to everyday natural phenomena. His extraordinary range of examples and meticulous explanations document mathematics' wonderful capacity to describe and explain nature's patterns."--Lynn Arthur Steen, St. Olaf College

"This work is outstanding! The color photographs are beautiful. The writing style is splendid."--Robert B. Banks, author of Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes, and Other Adventures in Applied Mathematics

"This is a unique, even great book. It is in the spirit of a number of books on topics like symmetry and chaos that look at mathematics in the context of visually striking natural and other phenomena but is more broadly based. The author leads with the phenomena and follows with the math, making the book accessible to a wider audience while still appealing to math students and faculty."--Frank Wattenberg

"This is one of the best contemporary texts on the subject, appealing to a very broad audience that will definitely love this excellent book."--Yuri V. Rogovchenko, Zentralblatt Math (European Mathematical Society)

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File created: 4/29/2015

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