June 17, 2021

Nature’s Numbers by Ian Stewart

The book under review Nature’s Numbers by Ian Stewart is worth reading by one and all.

Ian Stewart is the author of over sixty books. In a very lucid style he explains the complicated mathematics that is found in nature to a layman.

He writes the well-known ‘Mathematical Recreations’ column in the famous magazine ‘Scientific American’.

To the non-mathematical readers the book is a boon.

The book has nine chapters namely, The natural order, What mathematics is for, What mathematics is about, The constants of change, From violins to videos, Broken Symmetry, The rhythm of life, Do dice play God, Drops, Dynamics, and Daisies. All the chapters are with very interesting examples.

In chapter one titled, Natural Order, the author explains the amazing facts of patterns that are found in the nature! In nearly all flowers, the number of petals is one of the numbers that occur in the strange sequence 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89!

The great scientist Kepler found that if you take the cube of the distance of any planet from the Sun and divide it by the square of its orbital period, you always get the same number. It was the same for all the six planets!

Io, Europa, and Ganymede are three of Jupiter’s larger satellites. They orbit the planet in, respectively, 1.77. 3.55, and 7.16 days. Each of these numbers is almost exactly twice the previous one. There is a significant pattern.

It is interesting to note about the Ship/Dock theorem. That is, if you want to change the word ship into the word dock by changing one letter at a time and getting a valid word at every stage, you will find that all solutions have one thing at common: at least one of the intermediate words must contain two vowels. Readers will be motivated to do this puzzle on their own to find out the result.

The rhythm of life is wonderful. In nature everything is rhythmic! There are numerous examples given in the chapter ‘The rhythm of life’. The author analyses the chaos theory in the chapter ‘Do dice play God’.

There is a list of books for further reading to those who are interested to know more about natures’ secrets.

It is highly recommended that all should read this book to understand natures’ secrets or rather secrets of God!