From cell division to heartbeat, clocklike rhythms pervade the activities of every living organism. The cycles of life are ultimately biochemical in mechanism but many of the principles that dominate their orchestration are essentially mathematical. The Geometry of Biological Time describes periodic processes in living systems and their non-living analogues in the abstract terms of nonlinear dynamics. Enphasis is given in phase singularities, waves, and mutual synchronization in tissues composed of many clocklike units. Also provided are descriptions of the best-studied experimental systems such as chemical oscillators, pacemaker neurons, circadian clocks, and excitable media organized into biochemical and bioelectrical wave patterns in two and three dimensions. No theoretical background is assumed; the required notions are introduced through an extensive collection of pictures and easily understood examples. This extensively updated new edition incorporates the fruits of two decades' further exploration guided by the same principles. Limit cycle theories of circadian clocks are now applied to human jet lag and are understood in terms of the molecular genetics of their recently discovered mechanisms. Supercomputers reveal the unforeseen architecture and dynamics of three-dimensional scroll waves in excitable media. Their role in life-threatening electrical aberrations of the heartbeat is exposed by laboratory experiments and corroborated in the clinic. These developments trace back to three basic mathematical ideas.
Arthur T. Winfree
2nd ed. 2001. Softcover reprint of the original 2nd ed. 2001
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