The Mathematics of Life

New Angles on Biology


Did you hear about the farmer who hired some mathematicians to help him increase his milk yield? Their report began: “Consider a spherical cow . . . “. “THE MATHEMATICS OF LIFE” by Ian Steward is a real page-turner supporting the idea that for the next century the driving force behind mathematics will be biology, and that this marks a fundamental, and exciting, shift in how the sciences inter-relate. “Mathematicians like nothing better than a rich source of new questions,” he writes. “Biologists, rightly, will be impressed only by the answers.”

“According to Ian Stewart, biology is in the early stages of a sixth revolution, by which he means a sixth major transformation where scientists change the way they think about life. The first five were: inventing the microscope; systematically classifying the planet’s living creatures; recognizing evolution by natural selection; discovering the gene; and determining the structure of DNA. The nascent sixth, Mr. Stewart says, is Mathematics.” Book review by Keith DEVLIN (The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2011).

Of particular interest is the chapter dedicated to Phyllotaxis and Fibonacci. Fascinating !



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