From Publishers Weekly
The title capitalizes on the popularity of the Oscar-winning movie about Nobel Prize–winning mathematician John Nash. But this is a serious and adroit look at a branch of mathematics, influenced by Nash's work, that is steadily sending tendrils into nearly every area of science. It may even, says science journalist Siegfried, result in a mathematical description of nature of the sort imagined and called "psychohistory" by Isaac Asimov in his Foundation trilogy. Siegfried is talking about game theory, which was originally conceived as a model of economics predicting what rational people would do when competing for monetary gain. But with the help of the "Nash equilibrium," it has since evolved into a system that helps describe social networking, physics, evolution and more. In guiding the reader through the outgrowths of game theory, Siegfried steps nimbly around anything that would bog down the narrative, crisply painting the key concepts and framing them with pop culture, biographies of and conversations with giants in the field, and reacting ("Now, you have to admit, that's a little strange") to each new discovery. His clear and easy voice makes the content effortless and a pleasure to read. (Oct. 20)
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From the Author
Youre a science journalist who is interested in many topics. Why game theory?
Its precisely because of the many different topics in science that game theory touches. It was invented for use in economics, but over the decades its applications have extended to biology, psychology, anthropology, neuroscience and even quantum physics. Science journalism ought to report new scientific insights, and game theory has become a spectacular tool for identifying many new insights.
What is it about science that really generates the passion necessary to explore it in such depth?
Science is the one common language for coping with the world that transcends personal preferences and prejudicial ideologies. Many people, even some scientists, nevertheless try to impose their preferences or ideologies on science. In my writings I try to cut through those prejudices to find the evidence, interpreted by sound reasoning, that tells natures true story. The search for that evidence and reasoning is what drives me.
The movie or the book which did you like better?
The book, of course. The movie was very entertaining but bore very little resemblance to the true story and pretty much garbled what little it described about John Nashs math. The book was a skillfully written biography that provided some flavor of the math, although it did not explore game theorys widespread use across the spectrum of scientific disciplines.