Chaos: The Making of a New Science
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Chaos: The Making of a New Science

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  15,811 ratings  ·  421 reviews
Chaos records the birth of a new science. This new science offers a way of seeing order and pattern where formerly only the random, the erratic, the unpredictable -in short, the chaotic- had been observed. In the words of Douglas Hofstadter, "It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order -and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 1st 1988 by Penguin Books (first published 1987)
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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingCosmos by Carl SaganThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Science Books - Non-Fiction Only
27th out of 709 books — 1,816 voters
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Complexity
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Riku Sayuj
Chaos: The Tip of a Giant Iceberg

Gleick only gives an introduction about the actual science and beauty of Chaos. Instead he focusses on giving a poetic account of the scientists who first stumbled on it -- and their great surprise and their struggles form the narrative crux of the book.

While some may say this makes it a less informative book, for me this made it one of the most intriguing non-fiction books I have read. Gleick's way of telling the stories makes the reader share in the wonder and...more
Hadrian
A series of extremely interesting and well-written biographies and anecdotes which don't really explain directly what chaos theory really is. No equations and lots of graphs, but that's just to make sure the general public isn't scared away.

Still, Gleick conveys the 'appeal' of chaos theory, or at least what people think it is about. In a complex system, the most minuscule change in initial conditions leads to drastic or unpredictable changes in the output. It is important not just in physics or...more
مـــــــروة
لم أبدأ الكتاب إلا بعد نصيحة من أحد مُراجعي الكتاب على الموقع، ينصح من ليس له باع في الرياضيات بألا يخاف من الإقدام على قراءته ويعده بالكثير من الحماس!

حسناً، يمكنني القول أنني لم أفهم أكثر من نصف ما جاء في الكتاب، فالكتاب يعج بتجارب فيزيائية ومبادئ رياضية عجزت عن تصورها .. ربما بحكم بعد دراستي عن هذه الأمور "المرعبة"، ولكن نصيحة القارئ تحققت جزئياً، فقد أصبح لدي حماس كبير لمعرفة المزيد عن نظرية الفوضى

سأبدأ بعيوب الكتاب، كانت هناك معلومات لا داع لها على الإطلاق، فماذا سأستفيد من معرفة مكان سكن ا...more
Lis Carey
This book, over two decades old now, is one of the great classics of science popularization. It was a blockbuster bestseller at the time, and it's still well worth reading, a fascinating, enjoyable introduction to one of the most important scientific developments of our time--the birth of chaos theory.

One of the compelling features of the chaos story is that this scientific breakthrough wasn't a physics, mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, or biology breakthrough; it was all of them. A mathematic...more
Jim
When reading science books, it's difficult to know whether what you're reading is current or not. Gleick's book was first published in 1987, so I imagine by now there have been many developments and modifications to the ideas and theories presented here. That being said, this felt like a good introduction to the early history of scientists' efforts to understand and explain nonlinear systems and the apparent chaotic behavior observed in natural and man-made systems.

If you haven't studied science...more
Ianw19


Reading Chaos will teach you that the world is neat and messy, predictable and unpredictable. The way you see it depends on how you look at it. For instance, the discussion of fractals will show you that there can be infinite space within a finite area. So, while you know when you reach into a box of chocolates that you're going to get chocolate, you still have no idea exactly what you're going to get: There is infinite "space" for possibilities within the finite categorical "area" of chocol...more
Trevor
I did study a bit of Physics in a past life, but you don't need to have a background in science to get something out of this book. It sounds terribly difficult, but really it isn't.

This book gives a wonderful explanation of the Butterfly Effect - one of those ideas in science that everyone thinks they know and understands, but that generally people have upside down and back to front.

I really do like popular science books, particularly if they are well written, relatively easy to follow and don'...more
Donna Woodwell
This book came out in the late 80s, and I've crossed paths with it several times without reading it. I remember talking about it while eating dinner one day in the cafeteria with my physics teacher and some friends from class. And my ex-husband had it on his shelf and I never got around to reading it. I finally picked up my own copy a couple weeks ago.

Gleick is a fabulous writer. Though a popular science book can only gloss a highly technical subject, Gleick does it well. But I found this book...more
Jeff HansPetersen
I finally read the book that ought to have been required reading for freshman physics majors for the past 20 years! The other day when the radio announcer reported the length of the Florida coastline, I found myself wondering what length measuring stick was used. It is interesting to contemplate how much of the themes of this book have migrated into the modern cultural consciousness. Then, you may wind up contemplating how much of that migration was due to Jeff Goldblum's ham-fisted illustration...more
Victoire
Awesome predictability of unpredictability, namely sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Wonderful bifurcations and pretty things abound... it'll make you realise why we'll never understand everything.
Gayle
Although I truly enjoy the way James Gleick can take a complicated subject apart for the inexpert, I did not enjoy this book as much as I did The Information. I caught myself skipping, counting pages to the end of the chapter, even yawning and dropping off. Not a good sign for me.

Some chapters had me on the edge of my seat, or thinking "Ah ha! That's how that works." The overall sense that chaos has a sometimes deeply hidden pattern (that applies to all things) is interesting, but I didn't need...more
Ryan
Chaos, the concept, is often explained in terms of a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world, which tips some indescribable balance, leading to rain falling in another part of the world. It's an overworn cliche by now, but one that still gets to the heart of a quality of nature that scientists and mathematicians prior to the 20th century didn't really grasp. It was hardly their fault. Living in the age of slide rules and tables (or before), they can't really be blamed for focusing...more
Huyen
in the spirit of chaos, JG writes this strangely attractive book in an unpredictably aperiodically chaotic fashion, I never understand the messy structure of this book. sometimes he follows through the development of an idea very thoroughly, sometimes he randomly introduces something and then moves on to another guy who seems to be totally unrelated to the previous guy. There's not enough math for my liking and too much rambling about the scientists rather than what they actually did. Although I...more
Doug Dillon
Chaos Theory explained in terms you can understand. Author James Gleick leads the reader in an exploration of patterns that lie just beneath the surface of what appears to be total randomness. His discussions about finding order in abundantly unexpected places adds a comforting depth to the universe we thought we knew.

Gleick's use of graphics, especially fractals, to explain this mathematically driven concept, greatly benefits math challenged people like myself. His use of short, attractive chap...more
Tatiana
This was a great introduction to the subject. It turns out nonlinear systems are everywhere. Engineers have fooled ourselves by linearizing things for so long. We've basically pretended nonlinear responses are linear, so that we can deal with them. It turns out there is some extremely surprising and interesting behavior which is predictable in a general way, even if unpredictable in an exact way, that we've overlooked up to the last decade or so when Chaos as a science began to yield so many int...more
Shawn
I admit, about 40 or so pages in I almost stopped reading. The front cover had a quote from the New York Times that said "Almost every paragraph contains a jolt." I wasn't feeling it. But I plodded onward and kept reading, and I did start to find some fascinating stuff. Chaos theory--you know, the butterfly beats its wings in China and causes a hurricane in the US? Actually, it is more than that--a lot more. The book got into a section on fractals, and that is the first portion that caused me to...more
Mac
I don’t tend to read many books about science – not for lack of interest, really, but because they seem to be out-of-date almost immediately after printing. So this book, originally written in 1988 about a “new” science from the 1960’s and ‘70’s, was one I looked at a bit sideways. However, it had an afterword for the 20th anniversary in there (which, of course, is now four years out-of-date), so it can’t be so behind the times that it was swept under the rug. However, since I’m very interested...more
Matthew
Oct 01, 2009 Matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the literate.
reads like a documentary into the creation of a new science, a (I hate saying this, so overused) paradigm shifting look at how we think of complex systems. A must read for anyone into any of the sciences, they all apply equally well and are all a part of the history of chaos.
In a nutshell, chaos is a state brought about by deterministic equations (think about that) that do not settle into an equilibrium and do not display a coherent pattern.
An example frequently cited is the weather.
Basically,...more
Nilesh
The sad thing is that I lived so much of life without ever coming across fractals.

I have not learned as much new in a single book ever. From the coastline length concept to Mandlebrot Sets, Feibengaum constants to Lorenz attractors, Julia sets and Cantor sets, the world of non-linear mathematics that is even at the fringe of linear mathematic is deep and beautiful (literally). The concepts of fractional dimensions, bounded areas with infinite perimeters, mode-locking, bifurcations, Newton fracta...more
Brian Burt
Remember when you were in school and learned about linear equations and later on linear differential equations (a block on a spring is a classic textbook example) and you thought to yourself how elegantly this system is described by this equation? For the most part this thought recurred to me throughout my schooling and did not get any better when I had moved on to more advanced equations and mathematical models only to be presented with the ever-present qualifier that friction is ignored, or ai...more
Trav
More a biography of an idea than an explanation of a theory.

Gleick's examination of the emergence of chaos theory is well written, and relatively easy to read (relative when one compares it to the technical and academic articles on the subject upon which he draws). However, his focus is not so much on explaining the theory of chaos than on telling the story of chaos's transition from the fringe to the mainstream. In this, his work is an excellent complement to Kuhn's work on the The Structure of...more
Larry Markley
This book is a fantastic introduction to chaos in all of its form, splendor, and (not to be redundant) complexity. I read Gleick's book for my First Year Seminar in college. I know that many of the students in my class were put off by this book and thought it was too technical. However, I can remember two students (one of which was me) that were at least a little inspired. I went on to study physics, the other went on to study the philosophy of science. I can't speak for that individual, but I s...more
Reed
Very exciting book to read. James Gleick does an excellent job of dressing perverse mathematical concepts in approachable attire. This book has definitely expanded my perception of the universe in an unexpected way: it has made me appreciate what's directly in front of my face.

"Douady and Hubbard used a brilliant chain of new mathematics to prove that every floating molecule does indeed hang on a filigree that binds it to all the rest, a delicate web springing from tiny outcroppings on the main...more
Joseph
I will shortly begin rereading this book. If you don't know anything about chaos theory, and don't know enough mathematics to read a textbook, this will probably excite you. There are some popular-sciencey parts, but it was a very enjoyable read overall. The footnotes are particularly helpful if you want to go more in depth (or actually see more than one equation). The author has a lot to say about scientific revolution given the context of the arising of nonlinear dynamics. However, I'm not sur...more
Chris
Perhaps a page turner is a bit much of a book about the emerging science collectively known as Chaos theory. But this is a very well written introduction to the concepts of fractal geometry and the nonlinear mathematical study of such phenomena as turbulent flow, and periodic entities of all kinds, biologic oscillators, orbits in three body systems etc. While at first it may seem archaic but nonlinear (that is non differentiable) systems are everywhere, meaning while deterministic yet unpredicta...more
David
Feb 14, 2008 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to David by: Caryn Bohn
This book was everything I wanted Brian Greene's The Elegant universe to be: engaging, exciting, revealing... OK, maybe Greene's book is that (I haven't finished it, it's sooo sloooow), but I couldn't put Chaos down. It's almost like reading a mystery.

Honestly, the first chapter sucks you in. You read about a man who was being paid by the government to walk around (and fly across the country) just looking at clouds and thinking. Once you glimpse the mind of a man discovering a new science (in an...more
Gendou
Not so much a new science as an old obsession of a few mystics... :(

Gleick gives an unorganized overview some fun mathematical concepts like fractals, strange attractors, and chaos theory.
But he exaggerates the importance of these topics, presenting them as a holistic revolution in physics, overthrowing reductionism, which just isn't the case.
The last chapter was incomprehensible hippie mysticism, then the book just ended leaving me wondering what the whole point was.

It seems to me like this boo...more
Hassan Kadhem
interesting topic, interesting read!

this book takes you deep into the heart of Chaos Theory, the science of unpredictability and disorder.
the author goes deep into many problems in many scientific fields where Chaos emerged. overall, the book was hard to read. although i have a background in engineering i faced difficulties trying to understand many things in this book. i once had to ask my friend who is studying mechanical engineering to brief me about some problems in fluid mechanics. i loved...more
Koen Crolla
Too heavy on human interest, too light on maths, and Gleick has read more Kuhn than is good for him. It's another journalist writing about mathematics, though this one anticipated the Wikipedia Age by two decades. While he does exhibit a fair degree of sloppiness (``unbounded'' is not a synonym for ``infinite'', ``infinite'' does not mean ``quite big''), Chaos actually isn't all that bad as a fairly shallow introduction to chaos theory. It's not what I was looking for, but exactly what I expecte...more
Ooi Ghee Leng
While science on the whole is going towards reductionism, few voices like those of Goethe and D'Arcy Thompson hardly gathered any follower due to the lack of rigorous measures to quantify simple behaviors of a complex system. Come Lorenz, Feigenbaum, May, Mandelbrot, Ruelle, Takens, Swinney, Gollub, Lichaber, Wintree, Shaw, Farmer, Crutchfield and the like of them, then the science is upended on its very failure to capture complex behavior by simply looking at a smaller and smaller scale. They f...more
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رابط تحميل الكتاب 1 30 Mar 19, 2013 10:12AM  
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James Gleick (born August 1, 1954) is an American author, journalist, and biographer, whose books explore the cultural ramifications of science and technology. Three of these books have been Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalists, and they have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Born in New York City, USA, Gleick attended Harvard College, graduating in 1976 with a degree in...more
More about James Gleick...
Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood Isaac Newton Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Information Frontier

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