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Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick
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Chaos: Making a New Science

by James Gleick

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    Arrow of Time by Peter Coveney (Sylak)
    Sylak: I purchased these two books as companion reads. Others may find this a useful pairing too.
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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
First, a couple of caveats: "Chaos: Making a New Science" was written almost twenty-five years ago, so I don't know how up-to-date it is. Also, sadly enough, I can't say I know too much about any sort of science, so I'm the "general reader" that this book is probably aimed at. Even so, I think that "Chaos" is high-quality science writing and very recommendable. Gleick approaches his subject from a number of angles: he discusses nonlinear equations and mathematical oddities, chance discoveries, computer simulations and real-world applications like turbulence and the rise and fall of animal populations, and his multifaceted approach gives the reader a remarkably complete portrait of what chaos is and how it might change our thinking about a number of well-established scientific imponderables. I'm pretty much a math illiterate and barely managed a B- in pre-calc in senior year, but Gleick's a top-shelf nonfiction writer: he's able to lay out his ideas in a way that makes them comprehensible while also preserving their uncanny beauty. The author basically squares the popular science writing circle by making the head-bendingly complex seem both important and eminently graspable. Chaos is also a new enough science that Gleick can also examine the more human side of chaos research: he seems to have personally interviewed many of this new science's major figures, describes their academic backgrounds and mindsets in detail, and is adept at capturing the excitement they must have felt when making their discoveries and transmitting it to his readers. I'm sure real-deal science students will want to start elsewhere, but I'd wager that this book has provided a good deal of inspiration and reflection among even non-scientists. From the way that scientists in widely differing fields came to ask the same sort of questions about dissimilar phenomena to the very idea that there might be some underlying structure to disorder itself, there's a lot to consider here. I'm looking forward to picking up more titles from this author. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Oct 6, 2013 |
Very readable layman's overview of chaos theory. It's really a historical chronicle of what discoveries were made, how they were made, and by whom-- which I found a little tedious. Fractals are pretty, though. (No idea how dated it is, at this point; it was published in 1988.) ( )
  wirehead | Jul 9, 2013 |
Absolute must-read for most anyone, but especially anyone who is involved in the sciences (professionally or otherwise) and would benefit from an alternative to standard reductionist thinking that pervades the common perceptions. ( )
  MattP225 | Apr 27, 2013 |
A popular science book with some interesting trivia, introductions to the mathematics related to chaos theory and complex systems, and speculations on certain patterns that occur in nature. ( )
  xerocrypt | Feb 22, 2013 |
A very influential book, which brought the ideas of deterministic chaos to public notice. A best-seller for awhile. ( )
  hcubic | Jan 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Gleickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adelaar, PattyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gamarello, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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human was the music,

natural was the static...

--John Updike
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The police in the small town of Los Alamos, New Mexico, worried briefly in 1984 about a man seen prowling in the dark, night after night, the red glow of his cigarette floating along the back streets.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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En bok som gett mig helt nya perspektiv på tillvaron och fått mitt tänkande att bli både djupare och bredare.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140092501, Paperback)

Few writers distinguish themselves by their ability to write about complicated, even obscure topics clearly and engagingly. James Gleick, a former science writer for the New York Times, resides in this exclusive category. In Chaos, he takes on the job of depicting the first years of the study of chaos--the seemingly random patterns that characterize many natural phenomena.

This is not a purely technical book. Instead, it focuses as much on the scientists studying chaos as on the chaos itself. In the pages of Gleick's book, the reader meets dozens of extraordinary and eccentric people. For instance, Mitchell Feigenbaum, who constructed and regulated his life by a 26-hour clock and watched his waking hours come in and out of phase with those of his coworkers at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

As for chaos itself, Gleick does an outstanding job of explaining the thought processes and investigative techniques that researchers bring to bear on chaos problems. Rather than attempt to explain Julia sets, Lorenz attractors, and the Mandelbrot Set with gigantically complicated equations, Chaos relies on sketches, photographs, and Gleick's wonderful descriptive prose.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:14 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The author describes how scientists studying the growth of complexity in nature are discovering order and pattern in chaos. He explains concepts such as nonlinearity, the Butterfly Effect, universal constants, fractals, and strange attractors, and examines the work of scientists such as Mitchell J. Feigenbaum, Edward Lorenz, and Benoit Mandelbrot.… (more)

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