Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: The Mathematics of Life

When I told my crew that I was reading The Mathematics of Life on the cruise they said, "Come on, you're on vacation!" Well, I'm a science junkie and the Mathematics of Life is quite a great read if you're one.

For one thing, biology has historically not needed a lot of math, and the author knows that. We start with a discussion of fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio and how it relates to natural phenomena like flower petals, leaf growth patterns, etc.

Then he goes into genetics and we now have a full explanation of the human genome project and how it makes use of the computational power we now have. The breath of the book is amazing. We cover astrobiology, including coverage of the rare earth hypothesis and how likely it is that we'll find life on other planets.

The book is slow going. At time, it feels like the author pontificates instead of just disclosing the latest research and thinking. On the other hand, there's no one chapter I can point to and say: "this should be cut out. It has nothing to do with mathematics and life." I felt like I learned something in every chapter, and as a science geek that's says quite a lot.

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