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Chaos: Making a New Science Kindle Edition

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Length: 272 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Beautifully lucid . . . Gleick has a novelist’s touch for describing his scientists and their settings, an eye for the apt analogy, and a sense of the dramatic and the poetic.”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“There is a teleological grandeur about this new math that gives the imagination wings.”
Vogue
 
“Gleick’s Chaos is not only enthralling and precise, but full of beautifully strange and strangely beautiful ideas.”
—Douglas Hofstadter, author of Gödel, Escher, Bach

About the Author

Born in New York City in 1954, James Gleick is one of the nation’s preeminent science writers. Upon graduating from Harvard in 1976, he founded Metropolis, a weekly Minneapolis newspaper, and spent the next decade working at the New York Times. Gleick’s prominent works include Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, Isaac Newton, and Chaos: Making a New Science, all of which were shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. His latest book, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood,was published in March 2011. He lives and works in New York.


Product Details

  • File Size: 4828 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0143113453
  • Publisher: Open Road Media; Revised edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Publication Date: March 22, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Q3RRPI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,028 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Mr P R Morgan on September 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
We all know things that are not predictable. These can be everyday occurrences like the weather, or more specialised events (whether the stock market will go up or down). The unpredictable plays a large part in "normal life". Yet for some of these matters, there is a nagging feeling that if sufficient information were known, the unpredictable would indeed be able to be forecast with as much certainty as whether the sun will rise tomorrow. Thus James Gleick introduces the topic of `chaos' - there can be a "sensitive dependence on initial conditions". If we were to know the initial conditions in all their details, predictability would be brought within our grasp. Thus the flapping of the wings of a butterfly in China could result in rainfall in Indianapolis.

At times I was lost in the small detail, but the strength of this book is that it paints a big picture. The mathematics (and physics, and chemistry, and biology, and .....) is sometimes beyond me, but the overall story is that there is `chaos' all around. Some of the chaos is linked into classic Newtonian mechanics, but strangely enough, chaos almost has in itself an order and `predictability' about it.

The three of the most significant scientific theories of the 20th century are reckoned to be Einstein's General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and ...... Chaos Theory. Before opening this very historical account of the last mentioned, I knew nothing about the theory of chaos. Now I have an awareness of the subject, and how experimentation can play a part in mathematics. Experimentation and mathematics are not normally uttered in the same sentence.

Look for the big picture, and do not get lost in the people and places, which can be bewildering.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andy in Washington TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was prepared to hate this book, and it sat on my Kindle for about a year before I finally read it. I am an Electrical Engineer, a group not normally enamored with mathematicians, since Engineering is, almost by definition, the avoidance of pure math.

I ended up loving the book. Probably proof right there that Chaos exists.

While the book is certainly "technical", it is well within the range of anyone who is not afraid of math and willing to spend a little time considering what it says. I ended up spending about a week or so reading the book, a long time for me, because it takes time to digest some of the material and understand what it is saying.

A very good example is Gleick's discussion of a common mathematical formula x(next)=rx(1-x). This formula, where R is a constant governs many common phenomena, including biological populations. (r is a constant, and x represents a level of population from 0 to 1). Just looking at the equation, you would expect it to be fairly well behaved, probably some sort of exponential or sinusoidal looking function with a nice regular period to it. In fact, as Gleick suggests, if you spend a few minutes playing with the equation in a spreadsheet, you see that it is anything but a neat, orderly function. Depending on the starting conditions and the value of the constant (scaling function R) that you use, the graph takes on numerous random shapes.

In other words, even for populations with can be modeled with a simple formula, the math predicts that there will be occasional booms and crashes INDEPENDENT of any external influences. To put it another way, bald eagle populations might crash every once in a while, seemingly at random, whether anyone invents DDT or not- just because of the chaotic nature of how the universe works.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. H. S. Roodt on May 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
Gleick introduces chaos in an easy and understandable way, not relying on lots of mathematics. His descriptions of deterministic chaos are accurate and he recounts several stories to help the reader understand the context of the discoveries. Not a book for mathematicians, but rather a book for everybody else that loves a good story about where our current science views are coming from. Read this before you get into Holland and the rest of the manic gang.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hassan K Najjar on January 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book really made me see why Chaos is relevant, and what makes it stand out among the many theories of the century. The theory's beauty and simplicity is especially appealing for those wishing to escape reductionism, and get a holistic view of the world and nature. This book gives life to the theory by mentioning stories of 'converts' to Chaos, and discussing its evolution in various disciplines.

I recommend this book for those looking for a non-technical book on Chaos Theory, and for those that have no clue what the theory is all about but want to understand its importance to the sciences and the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By FMW on June 13, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really simple review: A fascinating book - interested in it after reading Gleick's book on Isaac Newton (which was also great). A great choice or gift for anyone who enjoys any aspect of science since "chaos" affects everything... don't have to be a science buff to enjoy it, neither do you need to have a degree to understand it. Well-written and I can't wait for more books by James Gleick.
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By LastRanger on December 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Chaos, like String Theory, is a purely Mathematical Construct with applications for several different scientific disciplines. Fortunately the reader doesn't have to be math-wiz to enjoy this amazing book (although the author does sneak a few equations here and there). Basically Chaos Theory studies the behavior of complex systems that are sensitive to their starting conditions; small changes can have a large effect on the outcome. (It's a little more complicated than that but also beyond the scope of this review). Journalist and science writer James Gleick has put it all together in this highly readable "biography" of the theory. The roots of Chaos go back to the early 20th century with some hints as far back as the late 19th century. Gleick traces the turbulent history of this new science and the people that made it happen. For as long as we've had Mathematicians and Physicist the two sciences have been butting heads and neither side wanted anything to do with Meteorology in general. Yet it was in an obscure Meteorological journal in the 1950s that we find one of the first papers that reference this chaotic side to Nature. For me, parts of this book were a tough read with some sections that were hard to get through. On the other hand there were other parts that went very fast, but whatever effort you put into reading this book is well worth it. While exploring Chaos's history the author introduces the reader to some unfamiliar concepts like: Strange Attractors, Nonlinear Fluid Dynamics and Phase Transitions. It turns out that Chaos has strong ties to Biology, Astronomy, Geology and, yes, even Meteorology. As a matter of fact just about any science you can think of that has a complex or nonlinear problem can be studied with Chaos applications.Read more ›
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