1st Edition

Unstable Nature Order, Entropy, Becoming

By Auro Michele Perego Copyright 2024

    Unstable Nature is a popular science book offering a journey through the concept of instability in modern science with a focus on physics. Conceived for the curious reader wishing to go deeper in the fascinating and not yet popularised world of instabilities, it provides an immersion into paradoxical and unexpected phenomena - some of which hides in plain sight in our daily lives.

    The book is written without technical jargon, and new concepts and terminology needed for the narrative are introduced gradually based on examples taken from accessible everyday life. The chapters are connected through a path that starts from exploring instabilities at the planetary scale and then passes through a description of unstable dynamics in macroscopic settings such as in human mechanical artifacts, fluid waves, animal skin, vegetation structures, and chemical reactions, finally reaching the sub atomic scale and the biological processes of human thought. Before concluding with some general philosophical remarks, a modern landscape about the possibility of seeing instabilities not only as a detrimental effect but as resources to be harnessed for technology is explored.

    The book is enriched by a variety of professional anecdotes stemming from the direct research experience of the author. It features numerous connections of scientific concepts presented with other branches of the human experience and knowledge including philosophy, engineering, history of science, biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, poetry, and meditation.

    Key Features:

    • Presents an exciting introduction to the topic, which is accessible to those without a scientific background
    • Explores milestone discoveries in the history of the concept of instability in physics
    • Contains anecdotes of key figures from the field, including James C. Maxwell, Alan Turing, Vladimir Zakharov, Edward Lorenz, Enrico Fermi, and Mary Tsingou

    Introduction. Prelude in everyday language. Cosmic instabilities. Cybernetics and control systems. Hydrodynamic instabilities: Chaos and turbulence Modulation instability An act of creation Bifurcations Morphogenesis Instabilities at the atomic scale Quantum vacuum and the origin of perturbations Instabilities in the head Pillars of Hercules Exponential nature Universal forms Riding the future Becoming


    Dr. Auro Michele Perego received a BSc and an MSc in Physics from Università degli Studi dell’Insubria (Como, Italy) and a PhD degree in Electrical Engineering – as a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher – from Aston University (Birmingham, UK). He is currently a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies, where he leads his independent research group. His main research interests are: nonlinear science and the theory and applications of instabilities and self-organisation processes, fibre optics, laser physics, and photonic technologies such as optical frequency combs, optical amplifiers, optical sensing, and communication systems.

    Unstable Nature by Auro Michele Perego is a remarkable book, and I don’t think I have ever read a similarly rich overview of this extremely important field.  Although we all think we may know what “instability” might mean, physicists have a very precise formalism to study unstable phenomena in nature, and this vision is central to virtually all areas of science: from planetary instabilities to microscopic biology.  Yet this is a subject that has not been adequately treated in the popular science literature, and Unstable Nature makes an extremely valuable contribution in making the subject accessible in an attractive and jargon-free way.  A key aspect of the book I latched onto immediately was how the scientific study of instability provides truly universal insights that connect different areas of science, and the book underlines this constantly throughout.  The style combines clear conceptual discussion, historical and personal anecdote, as well as thought-provoking philosophical discussions which are a delight to read. The author leads an independent research group in nonlinear science at Aston University, and it is a real pleasure to see such an active researcher also take a real interest in science communication.   

    - John Dudley, The FEMTO-ST Institute, January 2024.

    Usually we seek stability: in the work place, in health, in economy. However from a scientific point of view instability is much more interesting than stability as it can give origin to unpredictable and counterintuitive developments. Physicist Auro Michele Perego, researcher at the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies  (Birmingham, United Kingdom) is the author of Unstable Nature, an essay where he reviews in a pleasantly didactic way the full repertoire of instabilities, from those of planetary orbits... to the ones in chemical, biological, quantum and mathematical systems.

    - Piero Bianucci, La Stampa