Books on Nature and Mathematics

The Beauty of Numbers in Nature by Ian Stewart

Stewart draws on a wide range of sources to examine the mathematics of patterns: the Pythagoreans' obsession with numbers as the philosophical basis of the universe; a great mathematician who wondered about how a violin makes music; a clerk in a patent office who realized that space and time can get mixed together; a maverick mathematician who questioned why nature spurns such regular geometric shapes as spheres and cylinders in favor of jagged lightning bolts, asymmetrically branching trees, and the uneven terrain of mountainsides.

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

Generously illustrated, written in an informal style, and replete with examples from everyday life, Mathematics in Nature is an excellent and undaunting introduction to the ideas and methods of mathematical modeling. It illustrates how mathematics can be used to formulate and solve puzzles observed in nature and to interpret the solutions. In the process, it teaches 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 heights and leaf patterns, butterfly and moth wings, and even puddles and mud cracks.

Nature's Numbers: The Unreal Reality of Mathematics by Ian Stewart

"It appears to us that the universe is structured in a deeply mathematical way. Falling bodies fall with predictable accelerations. Eclipses can be accurately forecast centuries in advance. Nuclear power plants generate electricity according to well-known formulas. But those examples are the tip of the iceberg. In Nature's Numbers, Ian Stewart presents many more, each charming in its own way.. Stewart admirably captures compelling and accessible mathematical ideas along with the pleasure of thinking of them. He writes with clarity and precision. Those who enjoy this sort of thing will love this book."—Los Angeles Time


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