We are surrounded by order that physics can't explain. The spread of veins in the back of your hand mirror the spread of branches on a tree; fern leaves look a lot like maps of fjords; and the pulse patterns of your heartbeat bear a resemblance to some classical music. But now the theory of Universality is using fractal patterns to explain much of the world around us. Universality argues that there are similar patterns behind the most unpredictable events such as earthquakes, avalanches, stock market crashes - even the way businesses are run and the way fashions come and go. And while identifying patterns does not mean that we can always predict what will happen next, some of the trends scientists are noticing could deepen our understanding of natural phenomena and our relationship to them.
About the Author
Mark Ward is a journalist who has written about science and technology for the New Scientist, the Daily Telegraph and the trade magazine Computer Weekly. He is now a technology reporter for the BBC. Mark Ward is the author of Virtual Organisms: The Startling World of Artificial Life (Pan).