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To understand rivers, let physics be your guide

New book explores science of waterways

By
8:00am, March 19, 2017
River in Egypt

WINDING WATERWAYS  Aerial views of watersheds like this one in Egypt can take on fractal-like appearances, with large rivers branching into ever-smaller streams.

Where the River Flows
Sean W. Fleming
Princeton Univ.
$26.95

Spend an hour wandering along a river and you may wonder why the water rushing by chose this particular path over any other. While many nature writers might offer philosophical musings on the subject, Where the River Flows author Sean Fleming has physics on his side.

Physics isn’t the lens through which most people think about rivers. Fleming, a hydrologist, aims to change that. Only about 0.006 percent of the world’s freshwater is in a river at any given moment. But these hydrological highways transport a massive amount of water across the planet. Physics can explain where that water moves and help predict the ecological impact of its travels.

The

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