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Chaos: Making a New Science

by James Gleick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,930631,315 (3.9)106
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)
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English (57)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
A very intuitive and expressive way of explaining "The Butterfly Effect" - is what impressed me first about this book, while the detailing on the Logistic Map is the close second.

If you miss understanding what a "fractal" is, you might find the rest of the book quite boring - happened to me over a couple of chapters, so I had to track back where I "lost it" and reread from there.

Chaos Theory is mind-numbing and yet charmingly elegant. It'd be very frustrating to NOT know what actually cause something OR how some outcome can't be reproducible - but the world is filled with such events. ( )
  nmarun | Dec 10, 2023 |
Like Entangled Life, it took me a while to finish this because it encompasses so many different fields that I'd stop all the time to check references. This is not a criticism of the book, though: James Gleick describes how scientists in areas as disparate as meteorology and the study of cardiac arrhythmia were able to make an impact by showing simple chaotic models that reproduce features of very real systems which were previously thought to be too random to understand. I find that pretty amazing.

While I'd have preferred a slightly more technical book, I've found that Gleick is really good at making layman explanations without being condescending. He also interviewed a lot of people and out of it he made a really compelling story of how the field developed. I particularly liked how he highlights the massive resistance the first people who studied chaos encountered. Nonlinear systems have historically been (and still are to this day) something of a footnote because analytic treatment of them is impossible, which makes theoretical scientists unenthusiastic. And the more practical scientists are also unlikely to be receptive because incorporating a dynamic systems approach to their study requires interdisciplinary work. ( )
  fegolac | Aug 31, 2023 |
Chaos was all the rage when I read Gleick's book. It's just part of the zeitgeist now. ( )
  mykl-s | Jun 4, 2023 |
"Chaos is a history of discovery. It chronicles, in the words of the scientists themselves, their conflicts and frustrations, their emotions and moments of revelation. After reading Chaos, you will never look at the world in quite the same way again."
San Francisco Chronicle.
  iwb | May 9, 2023 |
Well-written and inspirational for science-oriented readers over the late 1980s, but also giving a historical snapshot of what was over-touted at the time as the next big revolution in science. ( )
  sfj2 | Dec 13, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
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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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To Cynthia
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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.
(piopas)
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