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The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the…

The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex

by Murray Gell-Mann

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743712,532 (3.38)2



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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Substance: Ruminations over a large number of scientific topics, with biographical notes.
Style: Interesting and accessible.
(use for research in writing projects)
p. 182 on propagating misunderstandings
p. 211: multi-verse bubbles.
p. 264: on creativity
p. 270: Contains the true story of the greatest physics exam question ever: how do you measure the height of a building with a barometer? (Although Gell-Mann's book was not published until 1994, I first heard the story in a college physics class in 1970.)
p. 283: explaining irrational beliefs
p. 296: how maladaptive schema survive
p. 322: on irrational behavior and assumptions
p. 324: blinders in economic theory
Unfortunately, this book does not seem to contain the story of "the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect", which is referenced in Michael Crichton's essay, "Why Speculate?"; however, I know I have read the original story in some book in my library. ( )
  librisissimo | Feb 17, 2012 |
I liked the first few chapters, but will have to come back to this one later.
  tlockney | Feb 5, 2012 |
Gell-Mann's snoozefest is the only truly boring book on complexity science that I've ever read. ( )
1 vote wanack | Apr 22, 2010 |
On the whole, an interesting and thought-provoking book that makes some unexpected connections between wildly disparate fields and discusses some pretty cool integrative-type work. Gell-Mann's intellectual liveliness and general brilliance come through very well. However, the section on particle physics (his own field) could have been much better. I felt that he either hadn't really decided exactly who his audience was or kept losing track of it. He'd illustrate a point using a famous experiment as if just naming the experiment would instantly call to mind its important details, its theoretical basis and its implications in any typical lay reader. And then a page later he'd explain some incredibly trivial thing at embarrassing length. (I was, for whatever reason, consistently annoyed that he kept writing things like "this would be represented by the number one divided by one followed by sixty-two zeros", as if he expected perhaps that I'd never heard of scientific notation, or would be bewildered by the concept if he were to explain it.)

Related to this, he just doesn't do a great job of picking a good level of complexity to discuss this stuff at. If he'd stripped it down a good deal more, I think it would have been understandable. If he'd added a good deal more, I think it would have been understandable (albeit a lot more work). But in trying to hit some kind of sweet spot, he managed to make it (to me, YMMV) complicated enough to be thoroughly confusing but not detailed enough for me to latch on and piece things together for myself. I didn't get nothing out of this section, but I got less than I felt I should have, less than I've gotten from other books on the subject, and it was frustrating.

There are some interesting, broad insights on the origins and nature of information and complexity; some debunkings of popular misconceptions about quantum physics (I love a good debunking, I can't help it); and an interesting chapter about skepticism and the need to go beyond debunking. The section on diversity and conservation toward the end is too long and preachy, could easily have been condensed fourfold.

Also: No references! No citations, no bibliography, not even a "suggested reading" section! A fairly major, and weird, omission in a book like this. ( )
  katieinseattle | Mar 4, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805072535, Paperback)

From one of the architects of the new science of simplicity and complexity comes an explanation of the connections between nature at its most basic level and natural selection, archaeology, linguistics, child development, computers, and other complex adaptive systems. Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann offers a uniquely personal and unifying vision of the relationship between the fundamental laws of physics and the complexity and diversity of the natural world.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:47 -0400)

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