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Patterns of Life: Track 2

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Everywhere you look in nature you will find patterns. From the seeds in the flower under your nose to the flock of swallows overhead some patterns keep occurring again and again.

The essence of mathematics is a series of simple rules that produce complex consequences. And nowhere are these complex consequences more apparent than in the natural world.

By: The OpenLearn team (The Open University,)

  • Duration 10 mins
  • Updated Wednesday 26th November 2014
  • Posted under Biology
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Track 2: Alan Turing and Morphogenesis

What makes tigers striped and cheetahs spotty? World War II code-breaker and father of computing, Alan Turing, has a simple explanation…


© The Open University


Tracks in this podcast:

Track   Title Description
1 Edward Lorenz and Chaos Theory    Why can’t we get a good weather forecast? Meteorologist Edward Lorenz tried to predict the weather but in the end all he discovered were chaotic systems, leading him to declare long term weather forecasting is utterly impossible. Play now Edward Lorenz and Chaos Theory
2 Alan Turing and Morphogenesis    What makes tigers striped and cheetahs spotty? World War II code-breaker and father of computing, Alan Turing, has a simple explanation… Play now Alan Turing and Morphogenesis
3 Warren Weaver and Complexity Theory    In 1948, Warren Weaver identified what he called complex systems. These are systems where individual parts act independently of each other, while still following a set of simple rules. Play now Warren Weaver and Complexity Theory
4 D’Arcy Thompson, Structuralism and the Shape of Life    If evolution is all about random mutations, why do the same patterns keep cropping up in the natural world? Coincidence? Not according to parrot-wielding eccentric, Sir D’Arcy Thompson. He realised that living things grow according to the laws of physics as well as genetics. Play now D’Arcy Thompson, Structuralism and the Shape of Life
5 Charles Darwin and Game Theory    If evolution’s all about survival, why do peacocks have such huge, extravagant tails? This problem preyed on Charles Darwin’s mind. Luckily, in the 1970s, a hip bunch of mathematicians called game theorists came along with an explanation that would have put his mind at rest. Play now Charles Darwin and Game Theory

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