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The Moon in the Nautilus ShellDiscordant Harmonies Reconsidered$
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Daniel Botkin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199913916

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199913916.001.0001

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date: 22 September 2021

The Forest in the Computer

The Forest in the Computer

New Metaphors for Nature

(p.156) (p.157) 8 The Forest in the Computer
The Moon in the Nautilus Shell

Daniel B. Botkin


This chapter examines how technology is revolutionizing our perception of nature by looking at the comparison of bacteria to computers. More specifically, it shows how computers are providing new metaphors not only for bacterial life but also for our entire perception of life on Earth, from the way that we view our relationship with nature and our ideas about managing nature. It also considers the use of steady-state computer models for simulating nature, including forests, as well as the idea of nature at the level perceived by trees and wolves. Furthermore, it describes a kind of uncertainty principle for ecology: since life and ecological systems that sustain it inherently involve chance, there is always going to be a limit on the accuracy with which we can predict anything about nature. Finally, it cites the case of the whooping crane to highlight the problems posed by the threatened extinction of endangered species and randomness in nature.

Keywords:   nature, bacteria, computers, computer models, forests, wolves, extinction, endangered species, whooping crane, randomness

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