- Perfect Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (November 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 031212774X
- ISBN-13: 978-0312127749
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,694,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Chaos in Wonderland: Visual Adventures in a Fractal World 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The weakest part of this book is the second section, which details the "science fictional" journey of an aspiring "modern Schliemann" named Garth (and his obligatory beautiful, young assistant Kalinda) through various adventures and encounters on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter. Pickover ( Computers and the Imagination ) intends to use the stories and the material in the other two sections to illustrate both the glories of fractals and their underlying mathematical formulae. He does this well, providing interesting representations of sundry Ganymedean cultures, especially the Latoocarfians, whose hierarchy is based upon the ability to conceive complex fractals. Pickover's detailed explications of the speculative biologies and physiologies at times appear improbable, yet he often provides earthly analogues or theoretical material to support his constructions. The book includes an extensive array of quotations and bibliographic data for further rading for those--likely many--who may be inspired to search beyond the material Pickover presents. There are also games, mathematical puzzles and computer codes for the willing hacker. Although the fiction is frequently so chauvinistic (in both senses of the word) as to be unpalatable, this is a fine generalist text to introduce lay readers to the concepts and designs presented.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
_Chaos is Wonderland_ is really three books in one, each with a different style and purpose. Part I, titled "The Latööcarfian Civilization," introduces the reader to an ancient race of mathematicians that just happens to live in the ice beneath Ganymede (one of Jupiter's moons). It reads a little like a textbook, but Pickover is just setting the stage for a far grander work. A rather dull paragraph in Section 2.1 merely sets the stage:
"Far from the bright twinkling city lights and the chaotic world of humans, lives a shy, sentient race of creatures known as the Latööcarfians. Their home is Ganymede, a moon of planet Jupiter. Ganymede (radius 2,635 km / 1,636 mi) is the largest and brightest member of the Jovian family of moons. In fact, Ganymede is one of the largest satellites in the Solar System, rivalled only by Neptune's Triton, and Saturn's Titan. Ganymede has a rock and ice crust approximately 100 km thick, with a covering mantel of water or soft ice about 600 km thick. The icy surface has become dirty with age" (5).
This may not sound like easy - or even worthwhile - reading, but Pickover quickly moves to the anatomy and culture of the ice-dwelling Latööcarfians, whose gallium-arsenide biology allows them to display intricate patterns of light on their foreheads. These patterns are based on complex, chaos-theory equations: dynamical systems, Lorenz attractors, and strange attractors are thrown around and even graphed. It's no big deal if the math is beyond you (as it is beyond me) - the audacity of Pickover's ideas is what really moves the text. Loaded with photos of Jupiter and its moons, cartographic maps, and anatomical illustrations, one could easily believe that Part I is a textbook from the 25th century.
Part II, "The Dream-Weavers of Ganymede," is a swashbuckling space opera that explores all of the ideas set forth in Part I... and more. It follows the adventures of Garth and Kalinda as they explore Ganymede and run afoul of fractal spiders, brain parasites, slug- and mole-people, glass girls, and - of course - the Latööcarfians themselves. It will never be considered high literature, but it is corny fun, and chock-full of hard science.
Part III is a set of appendices, but it is worth your time. Here you will find computer programs to recreate some of the fractal patterns shown in the book, fractal games that you can build and play, "the 100 strangest mathematical titles ever published," a treatise on communicating with aliens via math, "the 15 most famous transcendental numbers," methods on how to calculate pi, and suggestions for further reading. And more! Find out the true identity of the Celestial Police, read bibliographies of mathematics in science-fiction and computers in science-fiction, plumb the secrets of the ten formulas that changed the face of the world... And more!
Last word: this amazing book is like a small library. If you like cutting-edge science, weird science, hypothetical science, abstract math, wonky space operas, or references of the bizarre, then this book will not disappoint. Grade: A++ (Yes, two plus signs. It's that good.)
All i ended up with is a bunck of drawings and riddles, and eventhough i am a major in computer graphics and AI, this is absolutely unsufficient.