The Virtual Laboratory

The Algorithmic Beauty of Sea Shells

Authors: Meinhardt, Hans

  • A fascinating reconstruction of the processes forming the patterns on the shells of tropical sea snails
  • Corresponding algorithms are described in detail
Show all benefits

Buy this book

eBook $59.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-540-92142-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $79.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-540-92141-7
  • book with CD
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Online orders shipping within 2-3 days.
Softcover $79.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-642-26910-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

The patterns on the shells of tropical sea snails are not only compellingly beautiful but also tell a tale of biological development. The decorative patterns are records of their own genesis, which follows laws like those of dune formation or the spread of a flu epidemic. Hans Meinhardt has analyzed the dynamical processes that form these patterns and retraced them faithfully in computer simulations. His book is exciting not only for the astonishing scientific knowledge it reveals but also for its fascinating pictures.

Reviews

Review of the 4th edition: It is a strikingly beautiful book, with more than a hundred color illustrations of patterns on mollusk shells, side by side with the computer simulations that reproduce them. This bestiary of pattern formation includes stripes (straight or produced by traveling waves), dots, drops, triangles, and meshwork combined in any imaginable way. It is truly remarkable that this diversity of patterns seems to have arisen in the absence of any selective pressure, as the animals that express them spend their lives buried in mud or sand. Thus, these patterns are in essence a manifestation of Nature at play. Meinhardt has a great knack for explaining pattern-forming mechanisms in a non-technical way. In the first few chapters of his book he introduces us to the basic elements of his model in accessible and vivid terms. He shows how local non-linear self-activation combined with a rapidly diffusible repressor (or limiting substrate) leads to the formation of dots and stripes from homogeneous initial conditions, a phenomenon first described by Turing in 1952 as diffusion-driven instability. He then goes on to explain how oscillating patterns and traveling waves can be produced by the same basic model with different decay and diffusion rates. Here, the author and the book are at their best. Johannes Jaeger in: Bioessays 32: 638–640, 2010 WILEY Periodicals, Inc., DOI 10.1002/bies.201000031 From the reviews of the third edition:

This is a serious volume on the mathematical modeling of sea shell patterns. … This volume takes a rigorous approach, progressing systematically … . It would make a great text for either a course at the upper undergraduate or graduate level in mathematics or biology designed around it. It would also be a good supplemental text for a course in dynamical systems, differential equations … . It has left me with a new appreciation, wonder and curiosity about the myriad patterns on shells … ." (Amy Shell-Gellasch, MAA online, January, 2005)

Table of contents (13 chapters)

  • Shell patterns - a natural picture book to study dynamic systems and biological pattern formation

    Meinhardt, Hans

    Pages 1-17

  • Pattern formation by local self-enhancement and long range inhibition

    Meinhardt, Hans

    Pages 18-39

  • Oscillations and traveling waves

    Meinhardt, Hans

    Pages 40-51

  • Superposition of stable and periodic patterns

    Meinhardt, Hans

    Pages 52-69

  • Crossings, meshwork of oblique lines and staggered dots: the combined action of two antagonists

    Meinhardt, Hans

    Pages 70-89

Buy this book

eBook $59.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-540-92142-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $79.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-540-92141-7
  • book with CD
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Online orders shipping within 2-3 days.
Softcover $79.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-642-26910-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Loading...

Recommended for you

Loading...

Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Algorithmic Beauty of Sea Shells
Authors
Series Title
The Virtual Laboratory
Copyright
2009
Publisher
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Copyright Holder
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
eBook ISBN
978-3-540-92142-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-540-92142-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-540-92141-7
Softcover ISBN
978-3-642-26910-3
Series ISSN
1431-939X
Edition Number
4
Number of Pages
XIV, 269
Number of Illustrations and Tables
17 b/w illustrations, 139 illustrations in colour
Topics