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Deep Simplicity: Chaos, Complexity and the Emergence of Life (Penguin Press Science) Paperback – 27 Jan 2005


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Deep Simplicity: Chaos, Complexity and the Emergence of Life (Penguin Press Science) + Chaos: Making a New Science + Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order (Penguin Press Science)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (27 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141007222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739460085
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Exhilarating... Gribbin uses a step-by-step historical method to ground contemporary thought in classical physics' the Daily Telegraph 'Gribbin...takes us through the basics of all this with his customary talent for accessibility and clarity' the Sunday Times '(Gribbin) breathes life into the core ideas of complexity science, and argues convincingly that the basic laws, even in biology, will ultimately turn out to be simple' Nature' "What makes Deep Simplicity different from other books on complexity theory is that Gribbin ! goes back to the fundamentals' Daily Telegraph 'Gribbin takes us through the basics with his customary talent for accessibility and clarity' Sunday Times 'One is left feeling even more - if this is possible - filled with admiration for science and delight at the world it investigates' Financial Times 'Gribbin breathes life into the core ideas of complexity science' Nature'

About the Author

John Gribbin is one of today's greatest writers of popular science and the author of bestselling books, including In Search of Schrödinger's Cat, Stardust, Science: A History and Deep Simplicity. He is famous to his many fans for making complex ideas simple, and says that his aim in his writing - much of it done with his wife, Mary Gribbin - is to share with his readers his sense of wonder at the strangeness of the universe. John Gribbin trained as an astrophysicist at Cambridge University and is currently Visiting Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Sussex.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Before the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, the world seemed to be ruled by chaos in a quite different way from the way the term is used by scientists today, but in the same way that most people still apply the word. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steven Unwin on 14 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provides another overview of the development of Chaos Theory and the background to fractals.

The scene set, the book then focuses on its chosen area of interest, the role of chaos in the development of life and its evolution. In particular it focuses on what it describes as activity at `the edge of chaos', the point where things begin to get interesting - where outcomes are deterministic, but not predictable. It is in this apparent paradox that the fascination of chaos lies.

Though the answer to the question where did life come from still sits a little out of reach of this book and our understanding, the picture created provides an overwhelming case for the presence and importance of chaos not simply in the construction of our world through the shaping of trees or river estuaries for example, but also in the operation of our world. Here we are not simply interested in the ways that trees grow or river estuaries form, but throughout the whole range of processes of how things work from the orbiting of the planets, to the frequencies of electrical interference on telephone lines.

Indeed Beniot Mandelbrot, one of chaos theory's pioneers, developed many of his ideas attempting to solve precisely this problem whilst employed at IBM, He concluded that interference was inevitable the solution was to detect corrupted data and resend.

Somewhat startlingly this same pattern of inevitability of unpredictable events can be seen throughout the operation of many of nature's processes. For example the frequency and severity of earthquakes follows the same fractal pattern, as does the pattern of craters on the moon, and thereby on the Earth. This is leading geologists and seismologists to profoundly rethink their understanding.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Sw Foster on 31 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Gribbin writes in his introduction "..after about ten years of waiting for ...someone to write a book explaining (chaos theory) in language I could understand, I decided that if no one else was going to explain it in clear language, then I would have to." In one sense at least he achieves his goal - he really does make the mathematically complicated ideas that underpin complexity theory and chaos theory accessible to the general reader. The problem is however, that this has been done many times already by other authors, in a more interesting and lucid style. There are many books published that take the general reader from very simple introductions to much more advanced levels without the technical mathematics. So if you have not already read books by P. Davies, J. Gleik or S. Kaufmann and others then this may be a place to start. However, reader beware, because although Gribbin claims to have understood the concepts behind chaos and complexity he has certainly not grasped the implications that these ideas have for the sciences in general. This is evident in his chapters on earthquakes, extinctions and the facts of life. Here he is completely out of his depth as he struggles to interpret the patterns that emerge from the data using old fashioned approaches that have been made invalid by the material of the preceeding chapters. In short he can explain what chaos and complexity are about in mathematical terms - that is the easy bit, but he fails to show how these new ideas are causing a new scientific revolution.
In the chapter on the facts of life in particular his contrived arguments in support of neo-Darwinism simply cause one to ask if this is a really serious book.
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Format: Paperback
Chaos theory is said to be one of the most important governing theories of the function of Universe. It is believed that together with the Quantum Mechanics theory, which is nowadays grown, are the most powerful tools for explaining the way that Universe works.

99% of written books on Chaos theory are full of complex equations and as a result the every day reader has to expertize in Mathematics in order to be able to understand the meaning of them. Even then, it is difficult to gain insight to this theory.

THIS book, written by a gifted writer in the scientific field, reveals the basic ideas hidden in the theory without messing with difficult equations. In fact, too few mathematics and moreover simple to manipulate and understand, are used. Instead, John Gribbin, uses many simple examples of the every day life.

Overall, this book is an excellent introduction to the theory of Chaos both for those non-experts who just want to understand what is all about and for those who want to expertize in future.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Feb. 2004
Format: Hardcover
John Gribbin does a brilliant job of pulling together different strands of science to come up with some startling conclusions about the origin of life and its place in the Universe. Just like his classsic Schrodinger's Cat, Deep Simplicity reviews a lot of stuff that you thought was familiar but hadn't really understood properly before. And his ultimate message is that while there may be no place for God in the Universe there is every chance of finding other life forms like ourselves. Who else could weave Newton, Poincare, Lovelock and Kaufman into one coherent story with sych a powerful message? Mind blowing.
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