Making A New Science

eBook - 2011
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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 ).
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Open Road Integrated Media, c2011
ISBN: 9781453210475
Branch Call Number: Online eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource (325 p.) :,ill. (some col.)
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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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!

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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