What do a planet, a fish egg, and the ballpoint of a pen all have in common? According to Wagensberg, understanding means achieving the minimum expression of the maximum shared. As it turns out, it seems that a huge part of the objects that surround us share a very reduced number of forms: even though it did not necessarily need to be so, nature is full of rhythm and harmony. Even though it did not need to be so either, nature seems to be intelligible. This essay ambitiously treats the perplexity that these verifications can cause. Why are certain shapes– spheres, hexagons, spirals, helixes, parabolas, cones, waves– especially frequent? Why these and not others? How do they come about? How do they persevere? In order to understand it and explain it to the reader, the author weaves a conceptual scheme that serves to organize his thoughts. The discovery consists in the confrontation of complexity and uncertainty. From there on, one can pull apart the rest of the concepts: anticipation, mobility, technology, independence and, above all, the three major sections (fundamental, natural and cultural). The whole makes up La rebelión de las formas (The Rebellion of Forms), a genuinely interdisciplinary study that does not exclude the world of art, philosophy, music, or even writing.
Jorge Wagensberg (Barcelona, 1948), Doctor of Physics, is professor of Irreversible Process Theory at the University of Barcelona. He not only investigates and disseminates science, but is also a dynamic promoter of the debate of ideas, which has achieved him Catalonia’s National Prize for Scientific Thought and Culture, among other awards. He is the director of our Metatemas collection and is now responsible for the Scientific and Environmental Area of the “la Caixa” Foundation, after having directed the scientific museum CosmoCaixa, a reference for science museums around the world. He is the author of a dozen books and of many works of investigation on thermodynamics, mathematics, biophysics, microbiology, paleontology, entomology, scientific museology, and the philosophy of science, as well as of journalistic articles on a number of different topics. We have published six wokrs, among them Si la naturaleza es la respuesta, ¿cuál era la pregunta?, La rebelión de las formas, A más cómo menos por qué and El gozo intelectual.