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Philip Ball public lecture - From Natural Patterns to Self-Organisation

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D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre

Tower Building

University of Dundee

Dundee

DD1 4HN

United Kingdom

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From Natural Patterns to Self-Organisation: 100 years of Growth and Form

A public lecture by Philip Ball

Patterns, regularities and order appear spontaneously in the universe over an immense range of scales in space and time. Not only does such organization seem to challenge the universal thermodynamic tendency towards an inexorable increase in entropy and disorder, but these patterns often share similar forms and features in systems that seem to have no relation to one another. It has become increasingly clear that there are organizing processes in nature that operate according to very general principles, insensitive to (or at best merely fine-tuned by) the details of a particular system. At the same time, the delicate interplay between chance and determinism in these situations is able to engender immense, seemingly endless variation on a few basic themes, as in the case of snowflakes.

D’Arcy Thompson’s On Growth and Form was the first great synthesis of this combination of universality and variety in natural pattern and form. But only in modern times have we had the conceptual, computational and experimental tools to do his intuitions justice. In this free lecture, best-selling science writer Philip Ball will look at where our understanding of these processes has come over the century since the book’s publication.

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D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre

Tower Building

University of Dundee

Dundee

DD1 4HN

United Kingdom

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