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Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity Hardcover – April 5, 2005
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From Scientific American
Yet sometimes, in chaos theory, the complex outcome is not predictable. Gribbin, a science writer trained in astrophysics and currently a visiting fellow in astronomy at the University of Sussex in England, smoothly traces the steps from chaos to complexity in such things as weather, earthquakes, the properties of the solar system, and the rise of the most complex system now known--life on Earth. And then he explores "the biggest question," which is whether there is "life beyond Earth."
Editors of Scientific American
Top Customer Reviews
This book, by astrophysicist John Gribbin, gives us insight into the concepts of "chaos" and "complexity." Chaos occurs when a small change in the starting conditions of a process produces a big change in the outcome of that process. A complex system is one that is chaotic, and in which the way the system develops feeds back on itself to change the way it is developing.
Is there an order or a simplicity that underlies chaos and complexity? According to Gribbin, there is. He states, "the great insight is that chaos and complexity follow simple laws-essentially the same simple laws discovered by Isaac Newton more than three hundred years ago." Gribbin goes on to make this startling statement:
"Chaos begets complexity, and complexity begets life."
So what is the theme of this book? Answer: "It is the simplicity that underpins complexity, and thereby makes life possible, that is the theme of this book."
The first three chapters tell us about Chaos. They are titled as follows:
(1) Order (or simplicity) out of chaos
(2) The return of chaos
(3) Chaos out of order
The next chapter introduces another important concept. It's titled:
(4) From chaos to complexity
The next two chapters introduce and discuss the most complex system of all. They're entitled:
(5) Earthquakes, (mass) extinctions, and emergence (of life)
(6) The facts of life
The final chapter looks into the biggest question facing science today: "Is there life beyond Earth, elsewhere in our Solar System, or out in the Universe at large?Read more ›
A reader familiar with complexity theory may feel they have heard all this before. Professor Gribbin however takes a very mathematical approach to the subject and delivers am interesting and readable account of his subject.
I recommend this work to serious lay readers (casual science readers may find the math daunting, although just appreciating the author's enthusiasm will be infectious) and to a general academic audience. The scope is vast but engagingly presented and readable.
Throughout the work Professor Gribbin goes on tangents and then announces that it is out of the scope of the present work. I challenge the good professor to write a new work on just those tangents. I for one will be happy to read it.
There have been very few occasions and very few books that moved me in the way that Deep Simplicity did, for it is a work of art and without doubt a genuinely beautiful piece of literature. What's more, I feel that the beauty inherent in the book is self-similar on many scales, from the lucidly illustrative metaphors, to paragraphs that grab you as they weave delicately expounded threads together, to the overall structure and flow of the book itself. I felt privileged to have read the book.
After I finished I was left with a tremendous sense of appreciation for and recognition with our planet, its biosphere, life, and the Universe at large; even for my fellow man - although our depredations are made strikingly apparent. My final and lasting feeling is one of profound enlightenment; something felt when previously reading Gribbin, but not to this extent.
Thank You John Gribbin, for writing this book; $24.95 in one currency, priceless in another.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The first part of the book deals with entropy. All systems tend toward entropy, and this is a consequence of Newton's simple laws of motion. Entropy is a simple state. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Classics Lover
Excellent read that highlights the pervasive nature of chaos in a broad range of systems. The thesis is profound, and understated. Read morePublished 6 months ago by S. Treadway
I’ve owned this book for about ten years. Recently I decided to have another stab at it. I wasn’t terribly convinced the first time and thought that another read, backed by much... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Shadeburst
Interesting, but other authors such as Kaufman cover the material more thoroughly.Published 10 months ago by Forrest E Ladd
Falls into a class of scientific books I don't typically read. But here I am, reading it at an analytical level and even starting to cross-reference material and create new... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Swampy05
Gribbin claims that the main theme of this book is “the emergence of life and its place in the Universe”. So, I had rather high hopes for it, but they were only partly fulfilled. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Howard A. Landman
Well written. Was enjoyable to read. It also fills a void since very few general audience books exist on this topic. You don't need to be a scientist to understand the book.Published 23 months ago by yg1968
The only reason I did not give this book a 5-star rating was because Gribbin covers so much territory..... Read morePublished on May 5, 2014 by Stephen Knudsen