Qty:1
  • List Price: $18.50
  • Save: $1.99 (11%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Signs Of Life How Complex... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Very Good
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Signs Of Life How Complexity Pervades Biology Paperback – January 4, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0465019281 ISBN-10: 0465019285

Buy New
Price: $16.51
29 New from $11.78 32 Used from $5.80
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$16.51
$11.78 $5.80
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$8.00
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


Spring Books
The Big Books of Spring
See our editors' picks for the books you'll want to read this season, from blockbusters and biographies to new fiction and children's books.
$16.51 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Save Big On Used: Buy "Signs Of Life How Complexity Pervades Biology” from Amazon Warehouse Deals and save 33% off the $18.50 list price. Product is eligible for Amazon's 30-day returns policy and Prime or FREE Shipping. See all Used offers from Amazon Warehouse Deals.

Frequently Bought Together

Signs Of Life How Complexity Pervades Biology + Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity (Helix Books) + Complexity: A Guided Tour
Price for all three: $43.22

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465019281
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Deep down, we all know that living things are profoundly weird. Santa Fe Institute scientists Ricard Solé and Brian Goodwin show us the truth in Signs of Life: How Complexity Pervades Biology. Chaos theory and the life sciences are a natural combination, but it's still a wonder how fresh and intuitive the material is in their able hands. Copiously illustrated with drawings, tables, and photographs enriching the text, the book will appeal to all sophisticated readers with an interest in the larger themes of biology--major players such as evolution, development, and inheritance. The authors have carefully segregated the toughest math in sidebars, but the main body of text is still not for the faint-hearted. Chaos and complexity is innately math-heavy, and hard-core mathphobes will have to make do with skimming; still, even the innumerate will find the prose charming and engaging:

The idea that a random event can change history has been a great source of inspiration for both scientists and writers alike. We live in a universe with strong laws and much contingency. In our search for the laws of complexity we often find islands of randomness in an ocean of regularity, like the island of trickery, home of games and gambling, found by the travelers in Gargantua and Pantagruel.

With writing like this interleaved between the tables and formulas, the reader finds it easier to stay on track, and the rewards of improved understanding are exquisite. Solé and Goodwin nimbly present a necessarily complex subject to a wide audience; Signs of Life ought to become a classic among the scientifically literate. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

". . . an outstanding book.. . .Biologists, chemists, physicists, and a wide audience will read it with delight and intellectual profit." -- Stuart Kauffman, author of _Investigations_

"All life is here, its story told by two of the most brilliant researchers in rapidly emerging science of complexity." -- Stuart Pimm, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
85%
4 star
0%
3 star
15%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 13 customer reviews
I enjoyed reading it and loved the final paragraph.
Mark Godfray
The interesting thing about these systems is the way in which complicated behavior results from repetition and feedback using simple rules.
Duwayne Anderson
It is evident that the authors not only really understand the subject, they are also passionate and have excellent writing skills.
Zentao

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Pau Fernandez on January 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is very good because it shows you a very broad spectrum of phenomena in which emergence takes place (genetics, the brain, the ants, rainforests, virus, economics, etc.). Emergence happens when a system of simple and numerous parts does something you couldn't have predicted from a description of the parts. It's full of very well chosen examples of emergence in complex systems. If you don't understand what the science of complexity *really* is about, buy it! You certainly will understand after you read it, I can assure you.
I've always hated books in which there's only text and more text. I need drawings, diagrams, things that SHOW you something and make well explained ideas even better! This book is perfect in that. Also, if you don't like mathematics, they are exclusively inside gray boxes, and you just look at them if you want, the explanation is good enough. And by the way, the boxes are just great!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Stanley R. Palombo on March 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Sole and Goodwin bring together a host of biological phenomena that can be explained only through nonlinear dynamics, self-organization and complexity theory. Starting with the work of Kaneko and Ko, which shows that genetically identical E. coli cells placed on identical nutrient media nevertheless grow at different rates, they demonstrate that biological systems are exquisitely sensitive to initial conditions and to unpredictable internal fluctuations. This results from the interactional nature of all biological processes. The activity of a whole organism or system of organisms cannot be predicted by summing the isolated activities of its component parts.
Complexity theory explains the discontinuities of form and behavior that characterize biological systems. The illustration of these ideas in "Signs of Life" ranges all the way from cell differentiation in slime molds and higher organisms to the interactional nature of metabolic processes, the self-organizing properties of the central nervous system, the organizations created by social insects, ecosystems in general, and the economic and cultural activities of human beings on the largest scale. Evolution is shown to be the product of interactional phenomena involving many species at least as much as the competition of individual organisms with members of their own species.
The fractal nature of complexity, resulting from the iteration of simple but universal rules, is illustrated in boxed mathematical descriptions of the phenomena being discussed. What emerges from all this is a picture of the biosphere creating a huge array of diverse organisms and organizations of organisms in a manner that remains orderly and intelligible from the viewpoint of complexity theory.
The writing is both clear and lively.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Duwayne Anderson on October 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you've ever been in a traffic jam, chances are, you've also engaged in a coordinated, complicated activity with other drivers - without even knowing about it. They are called traffic density waves. How can that be? How can you engage in large-scale behavior and not know it? It happens because of emergent behavior that results from simple algorithms in our driving. It happens to you, just like it happens to ants, bees, and termites. These simple rules result in unexpected, large-scale order. It's what Sole and Goodwin would call "order for free."
Sole and Goodwin begin with one of the best introductory summaries that I've seen of simple chaotic behavior in nonlinear systems. The interesting thing about these systems is the way in which complicated behavior results from repetition and feedback using simple rules.
Later descriptions of biological systems carry this theme forward, and constitute some of the most interesting reading in this book. For example, in the chapter on "Ants, Brains, and Chaos," the authors describe a model that simulates the raiding patterns of army ants. Observing these insects from a distance, one might be inclined to wonder at the appearance of a higher purposeful component to the movement of colony. With simulations, however, the authors have argued convincingly that the basic patterns seen in the foraging of army ants result from relatively simple algorithms built into the individual insects. These simple algorithms, at the individual level, result in large-scale behavior that has no obvious causal connection to the algorithms that are their cause.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Zentao on April 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is what overviews of scientific fields of research should be like. The book begins in a gentle manner with an introduction into non-linearity, chaos and complexity. Many somewhat detailed technical steps are shown in text boxes and there are many illustrations to try to convey the information to a casual reader.
In fact, this book bridges the gap between general overviews (something like Gleick's "Chaos") and much more scholarly presentations ("Complexity : Metaphors, Models, and Reality"). I suspect some non-technical readers won't make it very far but that is more likely due to the fact that they spend too much time on things they don't understand. Many important aspects of complex adaptive systems in biology are reviewed using many different examples. Both theoretical and real-life examples are typically used to help make the point.
It is evident that the authors not only really understand the subject, they are also passionate and have excellent writing skills. Kauffmann is cited frequently but I suspect that most who have read "Investigations" will likely get a much better idea of his thesis when they read this book.
The only minor point: why no commentary on where we appear to be rushing? Or better yet, why nothing about the philosophical implications of complexity? Perhaps the authors wanted to keep this book as non-controversial as possible and thereby potentially have it as an "official" reference but I cannot see why people should be upset by drawing some conclusions. Unless, of course, it is simply because some of the conclusions are so scary.
This book should be standard reading!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Signs Of Life How Complexity Pervades Biology
This item: Signs Of Life How Complexity Pervades Biology
Price: $18.50 $16.51
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com