- Hardcover: 354 pages
- Publisher: Scientific American Modern Classics; Second Edition edition (2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1582881154
- ISBN-13: 978-1582881157
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,637,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Chaos Hardcover – 2004
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More About the Author
His home page is at http://around.com, and on Twitter he is @JamesGleick.
Top Customer Reviews
The truth is that the focus of Gleick's book is not so much chaos itself as it is the people who first explored chaos theory and eventually managed to make it respectable and bring it into the mainstream. As the book's subtitle hints, Gleick is concerned mainly with how a 'new science' is 'made', not necessarily with the actual science or math involved. This was not quite what I was expecting from "Chaos", but it is actually an advantage for the book, since its age becomes somewhat irrelevant: although chaos theory itself has been growing and evolving dramatically in recent decades, "Chaos" deals only with its roots in the '60s, '70s and early '80s. On the other hand, I was hoping for more discussion of the science itself, rather than the personalities involved in its early development.
I was also not that taken with the style of Gleick's writing. His narrative tends to jump around rapidly, often spending only a few pages on some person or event before moving on to another, commonly with little in the way of connection or logical transition. This is fine for short articles in newspapers and magazines, but it doesn't work so well in a 300+ page book. The vast cast of characters (meteorologists, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, biologists, ecologists and many others) spins in and out of view, and it can be very difficult to get more than a general impression how the little pieces all fit together in the big picture.Read more ›
Specialists working in many fields independently discovered curious patterns, and eventually, starting mainly in the 1970's, they became aware of each others' work. This book takes physics as the field on which it focuses, but it mentions many others. Since some of these fields involve conscious human decision making (especially economics), I have begun to wonder whether I can find comparable patterns in languages, my own specialty.
There are many reviews of a previous printing of this book: Chaos: Making a New Science, so you can go there to check them out. Other books useful to non-specialists interested in the history of and current research in the hard sciences are The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality, A Briefer History of Time and Electric Universe: How Electricity Switched on the Modern World.
In 1987 I got my Bachelors of Science in physics, Prozac was launched in the US, and James Gleick published Chaos. I don't think the middle one has any bearing on the other two. But the first and last are tentatively linked because, despite being completely jazzed on physics, I didn't read it.
Being a young physicist with a new-found appreciation of the universe and just how complex it is, I quickly found there was nothing thing quite so irritating as a popular science book. Just imagine, after three years of sweat and tears you begin to get a feel for the basics of your chosen subject, when some smart alec arts student comes along authoritatively sprouting stuff that you think you should understand, but don't - and all because they've read the latest best seller in the science charts.
Humiliating? Not even close!
But time and maturity help to break down the fragile arrogance of youth, so when I was asked to review the just-released enhanced e-edition of James Gleick's best-seller Chaos, I willingly agreed. And I'm glad I did.
For those who were too young, too disinterested or, like me, too arrogant to read the book when it first appeared, this is the story of how a group of scientists and mathematicians from very different backgrounds found a new way to describe the world. Traditionally, scientists had tried to understand natural phenomenon and systems as stable or almost-stable systems. And it was assumed that complex systems needed even more complex models and webs of equations in order to fully appreciate them.Read more ›
You don't have to be a genius to comprehend and enjoy this book. Some of the reviews for this book complain about there not being enough math to support the theory. The lack of advanced math made this book even more enjoyable for me. The average person will appreciate this book just as much as anyone else.
This book also has some very nice full color illustrations. Nothing was spared for this book. You won't be disappointed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best overall survey books on math I have ever read. It makes the topic of chaos accessible to anyone who knows even a little math and avoids getting overly technical... Read morePublished 2 months ago by JG42
Great book! Don't let the publish date scare you off as chaos is chaos whether from 100 years ago or this instant. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jack Oliphant
The technology referenced in this book is now thirty years dated, but the gigantic ideas presented are still only beginning to be understood. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Wackezoid
Okay, the background information is nice but, let's face it, it's the pictures that makes this book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by J. P.
So impressed by the ideas and the readability of this selection. I can hardly wait to explore the science of chaos in more detail.Published 3 months ago by Robert Peters