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The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living…
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The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth (1988)

by James Lovelock

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I have a background in Physics and Computing. I was and remain deeply impressed
by Lovelock as a scientist. Having heard and seen him interviewed, I should say he
is also scary.

The original 'Gaia' by Lovelock was very thought-provoking, not only for me but for
the thinking scientific world as a whole - I was (more or less) 'convinced'. After
reading this follow-up, I am less convinced. Maybe it's increasing age (or cynicism,
if you prefer) but some of the ideas expressed here seem to me to be a little 'dodgy'.
A particular case in point is the proposal in Chapter 9 ('God and Gaia') that the
mathematical procedure called iteration is a "trial and error, staggering, stumbling
walk.". This is quite simply untrue!

Also, in the same chapter, 'reductionism' in science seems to be subject to the claim
that the discovery of chaos theory has reduced reductionism to 'a few scattered
fragments on a pool of water' (or words to that effect). This is utter balderdash.
Reductionism has/had problems in the sense that attempts to increase the
precision of calculations/predictions by increasing the resolution with which a problem
is approached, failed to provide the hoped-for increase in precision/reliability of the results.
This is because of fundamental limits to precision due to 'chaos'. The application of chaos
theory to straight reductionism allows us to understand why this is the case -
reductionism still works - albeit in a modified form with chaos theory - in the same
way that wave-particle duality allows us to understand the strange behaviour of
particles/photons at extremely small scales/sizes.

Also, the Further Reading and End Notes are a bit haphazard - not usual in a scientific
work, in my experience. ( )
  captbirdseye | Feb 6, 2010 |
Never sure if this will be seen as the origin of the species of the 20th century. Or just a passing over radial ecological view. The danger is that it gets confused with some people with Mother Nature/ earth goddess which is not the argument. It’s more that each of the systems of a planet with life interlock with and affects each other. Nowadays, there are many different forms of Gaia theory, from “weak” to “strong.” Weak Gaia maintains only that life is important in shaping the Earth. This form of Gaia theory is generally accepted by many scientists today. In contrast, strong Gaia—the form that Lovelock endorses— says that life doesn’t just merely influence the physical processes of the planet, but actually controls them. ( )
  ablueidol | Nov 5, 2006 |
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Book description
Lovelock presents the theory that the earth is a living organism and draws expertly from chemistry, biology, geology, paleontology, physics, and meteorology that life has evolved not just by adapting to its surroundings but by taking control of them and remaking them into an immense life-sustaining organism.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553348167, Paperback)

Lovelock presents the theory that the earth is a living organism and draws expertly from chemistry, biology, geology, paleontology, physics, and meteorology that life has evolved not just by adapting to its surroundings but by taking control of them and remaking them into an immense life-sustaining organism.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:03 -0400)

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