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Chaos: Making a New Science Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick
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Chaos Quotes Showing 1-30 of 116
“Ideas that require people to reorganize their picture of the world provoke hostility.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“You don’t see something until you have the right metaphor to let you perceive it”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Nature forms patterns. Some are orderly in space but disorderly in time, others orderly in time but disorderly in space. Some patterns are fractal, exhibiting structures self-similar in scale. Others give rise to steady states or oscillating ones. Pattern formation has become a branch of physics and of materials science, allowing scientists to model the aggregation of particles into clusters, the fractured spread of electrical discharges, and the growth of crystals in ice and metal alloys. The dynamics seem so basic—shapes changing in space and time—yet only now are the tools available to understand them.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Of all the possible pathways of disorder, nature favors just a few.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“it struck me as an operational way to define free will, in a way that allowed you to reconcile free will with determinism. The system is deterministic, but you can’t say what it’s going to do next.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Somehow, after all, as the universe ebbs toward its final equilibrium in the featureless heat bath of maximum entropy, it manages to create interesting structures.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Science was constructed against a lot of nonsense,”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“But unpredictability was not the reason physicists and mathematicians began taking pendulums seriously again in the sixties and seventies. Unpredictability was only the attention-grabber. Those studying chaotic dynamics discovered that the disorderly behavior of simple systems acted as a creative process. It generated complexity: richly organized patterns, sometimes stable and sometimes unstable, sometimes finite and sometimes infinite, but always with the fascination of living things. That was why scientists played with toys.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Billions of years ago there were just blobs of protoplasm; now billions of years later here we are. So information has been created and stored in our structure. In the development of one person’s mind from childhood, information is clearly not just accumulated but also generated—created from connections that were not there before”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“سارت الشمس في سماء لم تر الغيوم البتة. وكنست الريح أرضا ملساء كالزجاج. لم يأت الليل البتة، ولا فسح الخريف الطريق أمام الشتاء”
جايمس غليك, Chaos: Making a New Science
“The spot is a self-organizing system, created and regulated by the same nonlinear twists that create the unpredictable turmoil around it. It is stable chaos.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“the brain does not own any direct copies of stuff in the world. There is no library of forms and ideas against which to compare the images of perception. Information is stored in a plastic way, allowing fantastic juxtapositions and leaps of imagination. Some chaos exists out there, and the brain seems to have more flexibility than classical physics in finding the order in it.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“He worked for two months without pause. His functional day was twenty-two hours. He would try to go to sleep in a kind of buzz, and awaken two hours later with his thoughts exactly where he had left them. His diet was strictly coffee. (Even when healthy and at peace, Feigenbaum subsisted exclusively on the reddest possible meat, coffee, and red wine. His friends speculated that he must be getting his vitamins from cigarettes.) In the end, a doctor called it off. He prescribed a modest regimen of Valium and an enforced vacation. But by then Feigenbaum had created a universal theory.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“The solvable systems are the ones shown in textbooks. They behave. Confronted with a nonlinear system, scientists would have to substitute linear approximations or find some other uncertain backdoor approach. Textbooks showed students only the rare non-linear systems that would give way to such techniques. They did not display sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Nonlinear systems with real chaos were rarely taught and rarely learned. When people stumbled across such things-and people did-all their training argued for dismissing them as aberrations. Only a few were able to remember that the solvable, orderly, linear systems were the aberrations. Only a few, that is, understood how nonlinear nature is in its soul. Enrico Fermi once exclaimed, "It does not say in the Bible that all laws of nature are expressible linearly!" The mathematicians Stanislaw Ulam remarked that to call the study of chaos "nonlinear science" was like calling zoology "the study of nonelephant animals.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Simple shapes are inhuman. They fail to resonate with the way nature organizes itself or with the way human perception sees the world.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“It had been well known for twenty years that the distribution of large and small earthquakes followed a particular mathematical pattern, precisely the same scaling pattern that seemed to govern the distribution of personal incomes in a free-market economy.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Lorenz saw it differently. Yes, you could change the weather. You could make it do something different from what it would otherwise have done. But if you did, then you would never know what it would otherwise have done. It would be like giving an extra shuffle to an already well-shuffled pack of cards. You know it will change your luck, but you don’t know whether for better or worse.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“IN THE MIND’S EYE, a fractal is a way of seeing infinity.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“The ceaseless motion and incomprehensible bustle of life. Feigenbaum recalled the words of Gustav Mahler, describing a sensation that he tried to capture in the third movement of his Second Symphony. Like the motions of dancing figures in a brilliantly lit ballroom into which you look from the dark night outside and from such a distance that the music is inaudible…. Life may appear senseless to you.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Engineers had not framework for understanding Mandelbrot's description, but mathematicians did. In effect, Mandelbrot was duplicating an abstract construction known as the Cantor set, after the nineteenth-century mathematician Georg Cantor. To make a Cantor set, you start with the interval of numbers from zero to one, represented by a line segment. Then you remove the middle third. That leaves two segments, and you remove the middle third of each (from one-ninth to two-ninths and from seven-ninths to eight-ninths). That leaves four segments, and you remove the middle third of each- and so on to infinity. What remains? A strange "dust" of points, arranged in clusters, infinitely many yet infinitely sparse. Mandelbrot was thinking of transmission errors as a Cantor set arranged in time.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“THE MANDELBROT SET IS the most complex object in mathematics, its admirers like to say. An eternity could not be enough time to see it all, its disks studded with prickly thorns, its spirals and filaments curling outward and around, bearing bulbous molecules that hang, infinitely variegated, like grapes on God's personal vine.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“It may be that all the laws of energy, and all the properties of matter, and all the chemistry of all the colloids are as powerless to explain the body as they are impotent to comprehend the soul. For my part, I think not.” D’Arcy Thompson”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Mandelbrot saw a seemingly smooth boundary resolve itself into a chain of spirals like the tails of sea horses. The irrational fertilized the rational.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Like the first two revolutions, chaos cuts away at the tenets of Newton’s physics. As one physicist put it: “Relativity eliminated the Newtonian illusion of absolute space and time; quantum theory eliminated the Newtonian dream of a controllable measurement process; and chaos eliminates the Laplacian fantasy of deterministic predictability.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“Winfree came from a family in which no one had gone to college. He got started, he would say, by not having proper education. His father, rising from the bottom of the life insurance business to the level of vice president, moved family almost yearly up and down the East Coast, and Winfree attended than a dozen schools before finishing high school. He developed a feeling that the interesting things in the world had to do with biology and mathematics and a companion feeling that no standard combination of the two subjects did justice to what was interesting. So he decided not to take a standard approach. He took a five-year course in engineering physics at Cornell University, learning applied mathematics and a full range of hands-on laboratory styles. Prepared to be hired into military-industrial complex, he got a doctorate in biology, striving to combine experiment with theory in new ways.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“God plays dice with the universe,” is Ford’s answer to Einstein’s famous question. “But they’re loaded dice. And the main objective of physics now is to find out by what rules were they loaded and how can we use them for our own ends.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“One simple but powerful consequence of the fractal geometry of surfaces is that surfaces in contact do not touch everywhere. The bumpiness at all scales prevents that. Even in rock under enormous pressure, at some sufficiently small scale it becomes clear that gaps remain, allowing fluid to flow.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
“the pattern appears so ethereally, that it is hard to remember that the shape is an attractor. It is not just any trajectory of a dynamical system. It is the trajectory toward which all other trajectories converge.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science
A.N. Kolmogorov and Yasha Sinai had worked out some illuminating mathematics for the way a system's "entropy per unit time" applies to the geometric pictures of surfaces stretching and folding in phase space. The conceptual core of the technique was a matter of drawing some arbitrarily small box around some set of initial conditions, as one might draw a small square on the side of a balloon, then calculating the effect of various expressions or twists on the box. It might stretch in one direction, for example, while remaining narrow in the other. The change in area corresponded to an introduction of uncertainty about the system's past, a gain or loss of information.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science

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