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What Shape is a Snowflake? Hardcover – 13 Sep 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (13 Sept. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297607235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297607236
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 2 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,394,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

For years Ian Stewart has been wrestling with the mathematical underpinnings of the natural world. In his new book What Shape is a Snowflake? he explains his fascination with nature's numbers and explores the fruits of his quest so far. No, wait! There isn't a single equation in the book--honest.

Stewart starts with a general exploration of patterns in nature--six-pointed snowflakes, feathery patterns of frost on glass, zebra stripes, ripples in the sand, honeycombs, spirals, and so on--then attempts to illustrate, in words, the mathematical principles underlying them. In the process the reader is introduced to ideas of dimensionality, symmetry in all its manifestations, patterns of tiling and packing, symmetry breaking, fractals, complexity theory and chaos. In the penultimate chapter he goes on to explain how the mathematics of earthly nature may mirror that of the universe. Finally he addresses the question of the book's title: What shape is a snowflake? You may be disappointed with the answer, but only if you don't get the joke.

Snowflake is a fascinating read, though it does requires a bit of patience. Much space in the first half of the book is given over to introducing patterns without offering many clues as to what generates them. In consequence, I found myself skipping sections to get to the juicier bits towards the end. Still, for the numerically challenged but patient reader, Snowflake is as friendly an introduction to the mathematics of nature as you could wish to find.--Chris Lavers

Book Description

An enlightening vision of how the laws of mathematics find organic expression in the beauty and patterns of nature, written by an internationally acclaimed mathematician and science writer.

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on 11 April 2002
Format: Hardcover
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on 8 January 2004
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on 4 July 2015
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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on 30 November 2001
Format: Hardcover
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Most helpful customer reviews on 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
One person found this helpful.
5.0 out of 5 starsAn Illustrated Tour of Mathematical Patterns in Nature.
on 16 May 2006 - Published on
Format: Hardcover
32 people found this helpful.
5.0 out of 5 starsA Universe Full of Mathematics
on 6 November 2001 - Published on