Scaling in nature: from DNA through heartbeats to weather

Physica A. 1999 Nov 1;273(1-2):46-69. doi: 10.1016/s0378-4371(99)00340-4.


The purpose of this report is to describe some recent progress in applying scaling concepts to various systems in nature. We review several systems characterized by scaling laws such as DNA sequences, heartbeat rates and weather variations. We discuss the finding that the exponent alpha quantifying the scaling in DNA in smaller for coding than for noncoding sequences. We also discuss the application of fractal scaling analysis to the dynamics of heartbeat regulation, and report the recent finding that the scaling exponent alpha is smaller during sleep periods compared to wake periods. We also discuss the recent findings that suggest a universal scaling exponent characterizing the weather fluctuations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • DNA*
  • Female
  • Fractals*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Temperature
  • Weather*


  • DNA