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Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick
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Chaos: Making a New Science (edition 2008)

by James Gleick (Author)

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5,905541,231 (3.89)101
The "highly entertaining" New York Times bestseller, which explains chaos theory and the butterfly effect, from the author of The Information (Chicago Tribune). For centuries, scientific thought was focused on bringing order to the natural world. But even as relativity and quantum mechanics undermined that rigid certainty in the first half of the twentieth century, the scientific community clung to the idea that any system, no matter how complex, could be reduced to a simple pattern. In the 1960s, a small group of radical thinkers began to take that notion apart, placing new importance on the tiny experimental irregularities that scientists had long learned to ignore. Miniscule differences in data, they said, would eventually produce massive ones--and complex systems like the weather, economics, and human behavior suddenly became clearer and more beautiful than they had ever been before. In this seminal work of scientific writing, James Gleick lays out a cutting edge field of science with enough grace and precision that any reader will be able to grasp the science behind the beautiful complexity of the world around us. With more than a million copies sold, Chaos is "a groundbreaking book about what seems to be the future of physics" by a writer who has been a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the author of Time Travel: A History and Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (Publishers Weekly).… (more)
Member:jSummer
Title:Chaos: Making a New Science
Authors:James Gleick (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2008), Edition: Revised, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

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Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
I'm totally in love with this book. Like, totally.

Why? Because it GETS ME, MAN.

Just kidding. I'm not anthropomorphizing a breakthrough in science. Although, if I was, I'd DEFINITELY be cuddling with this stream of seemingly random information that keeps repeating in regular ways, forming order from seeming chaos.

Give me a seed and I will make you a universe. Or one hell of a trippy fractal.

I think I'll leave butterflies out of this.

Small changes affect great extrapolations.

Our physics generators in video games relies on this. So do aeronautical research, weather forecasts, stock market prediction, presidential elections and the resulting public outrage, and the fluid dynamics of my creamer swirling in my coffee. Not to mention galaxy formation, fingerprints, shells, coastlines, or the thing that made the little dinos get the upper hand in those movies. :)

Truly, though, this book does a great job at explaining and giving us the unusual history of the science that brought pure mathematics out of the clouds and back into the real world, dealing with our observable reality. Newton was okay for some things but all these new equations describe just HOW little uncertainties can create huge chaotic messes... and still be reduced back to first causes. :)

Neat, huh? I'm totally stoked by these bad boys. Of course, we're all, yeah, we use those equations all the time now and it's old hat, but not so long ago, they were totally in left field and none of the big boys wanted to play with them.

So, yeah, it's like a total paradigm shift, man. I'm FEEL'N it. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Just as good the second time through. It's kind of incredible how few of these ideas seem to be presented at all in modern popular descriptions of science and systems. ( )
  jtth | May 4, 2020 |
Though I'm much wiser now, I was greatly interested by this book when I read it - decades ago.

Pop science.... and what's wrong with that?

( )
  GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it 30 years ago, closer to when it was written. For one thing, I am 30 years older and my brain that much slower; for another, Gleick's book functions best as a history and it is disappointing that the story ended 33 years ago. Actually, i know the story didn't end, but I read the 1987 edition and I know there have been more developments in all the areas Gleick covered back then. ( )
  nmele | Dec 29, 2019 |
This book is quite marvelous for several reasons. First, it holds up despite its age. Second, it is really entertaining. Third, it manages to draw together several different fields of inquiry into one volume.

Although it is quite dated, this book still holds up like I said. The computer images still apply, even if they are quite ancient by computer standards. Nonlinear equations and other mathematical models haven't changed since the 1980s either. Also, it is rather charming to read about Cray supercomputers and other limitations that these pioneers had and realize that you could probably redo all of their work on a modern computer in about an hour or less; I don't really know.

Part of the entertainment comes from the fact that the book is so old, but most of it comes from Gleick's writing style. It is quite distinct and personal. He explains things in a manner that a layman will understand and still succeeds in getting the gist across.

Finally, Gleick draws from numerous fields to create this particular book. He starts with Lorenz and his strange attractors, goes on through a number of names that I had not heard of, and talks about all of the fields that are touched by Chaos in general. The problem of turbulence comes pretty high on the list. Even some mechanical systems that seem perfectly deterministic have a jot of randomness in them. Gleick uses the idea of the pendulum, but there are many others; water dripping out of a faucet for instance.

Anyway, this book was really good. If you have even a passing interest in science, this is a very good volume to start with. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gleick, Jamesprimary 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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The "highly entertaining" New York Times bestseller, which explains chaos theory and the butterfly effect, from the author of The Information (Chicago Tribune). For centuries, scientific thought was focused on bringing order to the natural world. But even as relativity and quantum mechanics undermined that rigid certainty in the first half of the twentieth century, the scientific community clung to the idea that any system, no matter how complex, could be reduced to a simple pattern. In the 1960s, a small group of radical thinkers began to take that notion apart, placing new importance on the tiny experimental irregularities that scientists had long learned to ignore. Miniscule differences in data, they said, would eventually produce massive ones--and complex systems like the weather, economics, and human behavior suddenly became clearer and more beautiful than they had ever been before. In this seminal work of scientific writing, James Gleick lays out a cutting edge field of science with enough grace and precision that any reader will be able to grasp the science behind the beautiful complexity of the world around us. With more than a million copies sold, Chaos is "a groundbreaking book about what seems to be the future of physics" by a writer who has been a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the author of Time Travel: A History and Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (Publishers Weekly).

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Che cosa determina la forma di una nuvola? Perché nel mondo "i conti non tornano mai"? Questo libro racconta come da una quindicina d'anni un gruppo di studiosi stiano formulando un nuovo codice di lettura dell'universo e della realtà che ci circonda: un'avventura intellettuale che attira lo sguardo non solo di scienziati, ma anche di analisti, politici e industriali alle prese con un mondo sempre più globalmente omogeneo ma localmente frantumato, sospeso in un instabile equilibrio tra ordine e caos. L'autore illustra questa nuova frontiera e ci racconta le vicende dei suoi pionieri, uomini fuori dagli schemi spesso osteggiati dalla scienza ufficiale.
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