Chaos

Chaos

Making A New Science

Book - 1988
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James Gleick explains the theories behind the fascinating new science called chaos. Alongside relativity and quantum mechanics, it is being hailed as the twentieth century's third revolution. 8 pages of photos.
Publisher: New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Penguin, 1988, c1987
ISBN: 9780140092509
0140092501
Branch Call Number: 003.857 GLEICK
Characteristics: xi, 352 p., [10] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 23 cm

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sgcf
Mar 26, 2017

I had no business reading this book, I with my fine arts focus and seriously dominant right brain. But I’ve always loved the ideas of quantum physics which to me overlap with philosophy, and chaos theory is supposedly the next wave of science, so why not? Gleik’s narrative writing style makes much of it interesting, relating bits of history behind groundbreaking mathematicians, physicists, and other scientists. And when my eyes glazed over the mathematical equations and explanations I skimmed forward to the next attention holding section.
What I distilled from the book was indeed interesting – the fascinating Mandelbrot Set that repeats itself in all nature, the concept that our world is always showing regular irregularity (“The Ice Ages may simply be a byproduct of chaos theory”), and the idea of chaos theory itself that sees events as order with randomness, and then a step away is randomness with its own underlying order. No, I don’t ‘get it’, but the ideas are certainly appealing to ruminate on and the visuals are pretty to look at!

t
thomd
Jul 03, 2015

Bought this book a few years after it was released, but only read occasional chapters. Today I finished a cover-to-cover reading (including a 2008 afterword by the author) and it was pretty darn good.

The book begins and ends with Edward Lorenz, a weatherman who understood why we can't have long-term weather forecasting. Along the way we touch on Mitchell Feigenbaum and his constants, and Benoit Mandelbrot and his fractal dimensions. Utilizing computers to plot what early mathematicians and physicists suspected was a fantastic breakthrough.

The last few chapters cover some of the fascinating ways an understanding of nonlinear systems translates to cardiac arrhythmia, eye movement and crystallization. The newer afterword barely touched on these, and I want to read more on how the math was applied to these and other facets of modern life (and perhaps quantum mechanics?). I would especially like to read more on turbulence.

Highly recommended for the history and background of this most compelling mathematical work.

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