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Cover image of Patterns of Life - for iPod/iPhone

Patterns of Life - for iPod/iPhone

Everywhere you look in nature you will find patterns. From the seeds in the flower under your nose to the flock of swallows overhead some patterns keep occurring again and again.The essence of mathematics is a series of simple rules that produce complex consequences. And nowhere are these complex consequences more apparent than in the natural world.This collection will look at 5 mathematical theories that were inspired by nature. It will look at the origin of the theory, its impact on research at the time and its continuing relevance.

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Edward Lorenz and Chaos Theory

Why can’t we get a good weather forecast? Meteorologist Edward Lorenz tried to predict the weather but in the end all he discovered were chaotic systems, leading him to declare long term weather forecasting is utterly impossible.

1min

26 Nov 2014

Rank #1

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Alan Turing and Morphogenesis

What makes tigers striped and cheetahs spotty? World War II code-breaker and father of computing, Alan Turing, has a simple explanation…

1min

26 Nov 2014

Rank #2

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Warren Weaver and Complexity Theory

In 1948, Warren Weaver identified what he called complex systems. These are systems where individual parts act independently of each other, while still following a set of simple rules.

1min

26 Nov 2014

Rank #3

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D’Arcy Thompson, Structuralism and the Shape of Life

If evolution is all about random mutations, why do the same patterns keep cropping up in the natural world? Coincidence? Not according to parrot-wielding eccentric, Sir D’Arcy Thompson. He realised that living things grow according to the laws of physics as well as genetics.

1min

26 Nov 2014

Rank #4

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Charles Darwin and Game Theory

If evolution’s all about survival, why do peacocks have such huge, extravagant tails? This problem preyed on Charles Darwin’s mind. Luckily, in the 1970s, a hip bunch of mathematicians called game theorists came along with an explanation that would have put his mind at rest.

1min

26 Nov 2014

Rank #5