"When a guitar string is plucked or when children jiggle a jump rope, the shape that appears is a sine wave. The ripples on a pond, the ridges of sand dunes, the stripes of a zebra -- all are manifestations of nature's most basic mechanisms of pattern formation: the emergence of sinusoidal structure from a background of bland uniformity.
"There are deep mathematical reasons for this. Whenever a state of featureless equilibrium loses stability -- for whatever reason, and by whatever physical, biological, or chemical process -- the pattern that appears first is a sine wave, or a combination of them.
"Sine waves are the atoms of structure. They're nature's building blocks. Without them, there'd be nothing, giving new meaning to the phrase 'sine qua non.'"
"Quantum mechanics describes real atoms, and hence all of matter, as packets of sine waves. Even at the cosmological scale, sine waves form the seeds of all that exists. Astronomers have probed tge spectrum (the pattern of sine waves) of the cosmic microwave background and found that their measurements match the predictions of inflationary cosmology, the leading theory for the birth and growth of the universe. So it seems that out of a featureless Big Bang, primordial sine waves -- ripples on the density of matter and energy -- emerged spontaneously and spawned the stuff of the cosmos.
"Stars. Galaxies. And, ultimately, little kids riding Ferris Wheels."