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Turbulent Mirror: An Illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness [Paperback]

John Briggs
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)


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Book Description

June 26, 1990 0060916966 978-0060916961 Reprint

Until recently, such phenomena as the volatility of weather systems, the fluctuation of the shock market, or the random firing of neurons in the brain were considered too "noisy" and complex to be probed by science. But now, with the aid of high-speed computers, scientists have been able to penetrate a reality that is changing the way we perceive the universe. Their findings -- the basis for chaos theory -- represent one of the most exciting scientific pursuits of our time.

No better introduction to this find could be found than John Briggs and F. David Peat's Turbulent Mirror. Together, they explore the many faces of chaos and reveal how its law direct most of the processes of everyday life and how it appears that everything in the universe is interconnected -- discovering an "emerging science of wholeness."

Turbulent Mirror introduces us to the scientists involved in study this endlessly strange field; to the theories that are turning our perception of the world on its head; and to the discoveries in mathematics, biology, and physics that are heralding a revolution more profound than the one responsible for producing the atomic bomb. With practical applications ranging from the control of traffic flow and the development of artifical intelligence to the treatment of heart attacks and schizophrenia, chaos promises to be an increasingly rewarding area of inquiry -- of interest to everyone.



Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Unlike James Gleick's Chaos: Making a New Science ( LJ 8/87), which focused heavily on mathematics, Briggs and Peat look at how chaos theory--the idea that turbulent phenomena actually contain organizing patterns--has also influenced other scientific disciplines, offering a model, for example, for understanding the human brain and developing computer systems for artificial intelligence. The book's chapter heading quotations from Chinese Taoist texts and Alice in Wonderland are clues that readers are being led into abstruse territory. But encouraging readers to appreciate nuances of truth rather than to seek a reductionist version of truth may be what chaos theory--and this book--is all about. For comprehensive public and academic library collections.-- Laurie Tynan, Montgomery Cty.
Norristown P.L., Pa.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John Briggs, Ph.D., is a professor of English and the journalism coordinator at Western Connecticut State University. He lives in Danbury, Connecticut.

F. David Peat holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Liverpool and has written dozens of books on art, science, and spirituality.They are the authors of Turbulent Mirror.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 26, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060916966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060916961
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IGNORE CHAOS AT YOUR PERIL June 4, 2000
Format:Paperback
Very well thought out survey of chaos theory presents a metaphorical mirror as a means to magnify and project into view the hidden world of turbulence. The advent of the computer has brought chaos and fractals out of the closet. Here the authors teach the reader how to navigate in the turbulent world from the submicroscopic realms to the distant galaxies. The authors dish up a huge concept list: fractal dimensions, strange attractors, holograms, soliton bubbles, bifurcation, quantum phase locking, coevolution of species and the earth as Gaia -- all in an attempt to teach the reader the folly of allowing the part/whole dichotomy to rule your perception of the universe.
The book is a stark attack on those the authors term reductionists -- those who seek answers in breaking the whole into ever smaller parts. The authors' pet writers are David Bohm, Lynn Margulis, and Llya Prigogine but they toss in another hundred ideas for irregular stepping stones to get where they are going. Where is that? They composed an evangelical message -- that man now has the tools and knowledge to step through Alice's Looking Glass into an entirely new and mystical perception of the whole. They see chaos as a source of future evolution and life.
I give the authors a high mark for original thought. Although using a hundred other science writers to frame their ideas, they direct the reader to go beyond existing theories and strike a path for the center of the turbulent mirror. The diagrams and illustrations also were very helpful. They pictured the brain as a strange attractor, with thought arbitrating between the two realms of order and chaos.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Book June 23, 1999
Format:Paperback
This book provides a great introduction to chaos theory and strikes a devastating blow to reductionism. Using a historical approach, the book walks the reader through the discoveries and mathematics that underlie fractals, chaos and complexity. It also provides a short, fascinating interview with Ilya Prigogine and a great layperson's introduction to his ideas. Turbulent Mirror makes the point that because of "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" one can not really separate the whole from the parts - in essence there really are no "initial conditions." The only weakness of this book, IMHO, is the use of occasional Alice and Wonderland illustrations and a few too many quotes from eastern philosophy. These are not overpowering, however, so if you don't like them them can ignore them and enjoy the rest of the material which is truly great.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book Ahead of its Time - still February 27, 2005
Format:Paperback
A wonderful synthesis of science at the edge. A grasp of how scientific methodology is changing to accommodate the revelations of chaos theory. The used edition I read was from 1990 and is prescient even now (alas). The informed and illuminating evidence that revolutionizes the current Neo-Darwinistic paradigm of molecular evolutionary theory towards the end of the book was particularly refreshing. John Briggs and F. Peat's thinking is so strikingly lucid, informed, and visionary that this book will fail to make almost any lecture list where it is most needed for years to come.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Revelation about the World We Live in December 29, 1999
By Lu
Format:Paperback
What I read is a Chinese translation of the book. Although I do not fully understand the researches and examples involved in explaining the development from 'Order to Chaos' (the first few chapters), and I have not yet experienced some of the interesting events that described, I am amazed by the final few chapters about the possible role of chaos theory in the development of cells, organisms, RNA, DNA, and about creativity and 'nuance.' What I find most debatable is the responsibility of reductionism in creating the problems for nature and humanity, or detouring the course of science. I certainly believe that the scientists and thinkers before us forged the foundation for us, and from their experience, we discover the verity of past knowledge. I don't think Darwin would appreciate we calling him a reductionist because at that time, reductionism was the way of science, not to mention that 'reductionism' is a modern classification. The book also details a lot of examples to explain that most phenomenons are the results of nonlinear chaos complexity. I can't help but notice the strong implication of creationism, with chaos theory as the creator instead of God.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explaining the unexplainable February 5, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The new science of Chaos has revolutionized not only science, but how all disciplines think. Chaos is the closest science has come to becoming a religion.
This is more of a text book, than a fun read, but it takes a very complicated subject and helps break it down into something digestible for the layman. Don't think you will know all about Chaos and it might take some rereading in some chapters, but overall good reading. The illustrations are marvelous as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Here is an easy to read exposition of the theory of order out of chaos and how the natural world arises from basic natural processes repeated over and over again. The relevance of fractals to this study is given as well as a description of psychic processes. A must read for anyone interested in the new science. All the more complex theories of interest to the magical endeavor are based on the ideas presented in this book. It's an excellent companion to James Gleick's "Chaos."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enter the other side of the mirror and back
Fun read.
If you are looking for an introductory book about the world of Chaos Theory, this would be an easy book for a young mind (or adult) to read. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Alex Hanley
4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to the topic
This book, for those new to fractals gives an overview with some nice line drawing illustrations. It is not as good a book as John Briggs' later book "Fractals - the Patterns... Read more
Published 12 months ago by James M. Todd
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowing mathematics of chaos
If you're only going to read one book on Chaos/Complexity theory, this is the one. If you're planning to read many, this is a good place to start. Read more
Published on April 3, 2012 by Luna Lindsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Through the Looking Glass
This is my favorite book on the subject for the layperson. The authors have done an excellent job of exploring chaos theory from all angles. Read more
Published on November 23, 2011 by PD Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic primer
This book opened my eyes to the wonder of fractals and chaos. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
Published on February 10, 2009 by Andres Amador
4.0 out of 5 stars A step deeper guild of Chaos Theory to layman
I've finished this book's Chinese version today. In the last year, I'm trying my best effort to absorb knowledge of Chaos Theory, Complexity, and Catastrophe Theory. Read more
Published on October 28, 2001 by William Chan
1.0 out of 5 stars Science or Science Fiction
While this book does make some interesting points about chaos, I found that the book's blatant disregard for accepted science very hard to stomach. Read more
Published on February 2, 2001 by Jason Wither
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