As a rule, when a distinguished scientist says he's come up with a fourth law of thermodynamics, he's wrong. Stuart Kauffman may be the exception.
The three laws of thermodynamics have been summarized as: You can't win, You can't break even, and You can't get out of the game. Kauffman's candidate for fourth law is: But the game keeps getting more complicated, and there are always more different ways to play.
One of Kauffman's key concepts is that of the adjacent possible. Imagine a set of things that exist in a particular system (such as a group of reacting chemicals, or an ecological community, or the kinds of toys available in a capitalist economy). The adjacent possible is the set of things that are only one step away from actual existence. Like potential energy in physics, the adjacent possible is a metaphysical idea with real utility.
You can think of "normal science" (as described by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) as proceeding step by step into the adjacent possible. Most self-styled revolutionary scientific treatises are really crackpottery. They don't stop in the adjacent possible; they go wandering across the landscape and over the speculative horizon. Investigations may be the real thing. Kauffman is pushing into the adjacent possible at many points, from biology, chemistry, thermodynamics, and economics. As he says, "whatever Investigations is--useful, as I hope, or foolish--it is not normal science." --Mary Ellen Curtin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
EDITORS OF SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you are not you better take notes and go away and read up.
This necessitates a rather more detailed coverage of Carnot work cycles and information compressibility than was covered in passing in his earlier books.
Even a brief overview of some of the terms used in his metaphors would be a great help to those without PhDs.
According to the introduction, the author started writing his ideas about complexity in a notebook in order to understand the interrelationships in a better way; he also mentioned... Read morePublished on February 5, 2010 by A. Panda
I was disappointed by this book. Kauffman's work with cellular automata and his book The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution inspired me to go to... Read morePublished on January 11, 2008 by Superfly
Kaufman is not a "science writer", he is one of the worlds senior and most distinguished scientists and he has in this book opened his personal notebook of his most cutting-edge... Read morePublished on September 29, 2004 by Bryan Long
This is a great book. Not by the suggested answers to the problems related to the notion of Life, but by the questions which are asked. Read morePublished on May 23, 2004 by Carlos Gershenson
Stuart Kauffman has been probing the "deep structure" of life for decades. He is one of the founding members of the Santa Fe Institute, the leading center for the... Read morePublished on March 14, 2004 by roy christopher
Normally I'd dismiss out of hand anyone who claims to have found a fourth law of thermodynamics but from Stuart Kauffman, I'll hear what he has to say. Read morePublished on March 10, 2003 by Bosco Ho
As a computer scientist in the 60s through the 70s-80s, a small business owner in the 90s, and now a doctoral candidate in management, I found Kauffman's investigations to be... Read morePublished on January 23, 2003 by Frederick Lins
I have greatly looked forward to Kauffman's new book when I ordered it. I have previously read and enjoyed his book, "At Home in The Universe. Read morePublished on November 19, 2002 by Mile B.