How are crystals made?

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Author's Note: How are crystals made?

Self-organizing systems, from ecologies to (some say) the universe itself, are in their own way as mind-bending as chaotic ones. Indeed, some have called self-organization "anti-chaos" because, while chaos is highly sensitive to initial conditions, self-organizing systems begin with a multiplicity of initial conditions and end up in virtually the same final state.

Organization and multiplicity are what crystals are all about. They are defined by order, but not order of a single kind. Multiplicities -- of morphologies, of lattices, of polyhedra, sometimes even of crystals -- are why the same pile of atoms can give us diamonds or pencil lead. There's something sublime in that.

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