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From rainbows, river meanders and shadows to spider webs, honeycombs and the markings on animal coats, the visible world is full of patterns that can be described mathematically.

John A. Adams, professor of mathematics and statistics at Old Dominion University, explores the beauty and wonder of nature through mathematics in his book "Mathematics in Nature: Modeling Patterns in the Natural World," released by Princeton University Press this November.

The book illustrates how mathematics can be used to formulate and solve puzzles found in nature and to interpret the solutions. In the process, it addresses such topics as the art of estimation and the effects of scale, particularly what happens as things get bigger.

Readers will develop an understanding of the symbiosis that exists between basic scientific principles and their mathematical expressions, as well as a deeper appreciation for such natural phenomena as cloud formations, halos and glories, tree growth and leaf patterns, butterfly and moth wing markings, and even puddles and mud cracks.
Included in the book are 24 color photographs, most of which were taken by the author.

For more information, visit www.pup.princeton.edu.

This article was posted on: November 4, 2003

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