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Universality: The Underlying Theory Behind Life, The Universe and Everything [Paperback]

Mark Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

5 July 2002
New answers to the old quest to find order in the Universe.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New edition edition (5 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033039312X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330393126
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,120,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Book Description

We are surrounded by order that physics can't explain. The spread of veins in the back of your hand mirror the spread of branches on a tree; fern leaves look a lot like maps of fjords; and the pulse patterns of your heartbeat bear a resemblance to some classical music. But now the theory of Universality is using fractal patterns to explain much of the world around us. Universality argues that there are similar patterns behind the most unpredictable events such as earthquakes, avalanches, stock market crashes - even the way businesses are run and the way fashions come and go. And while identifying patterns does not mean that we can always predict what will happen next, some of the trends scientists are noticing could deepen our understanding of natural phenomena and our relationship to them.

About the Author

Mark Ward is a journalist who has written about science and technology for the New Scientist, the Daily Telegraph and the trade magazine Computer Weekly. He is now a technology reporter for the BBC. Mark Ward is the author of Virtual Organisms: The Startling World of Artificial Life (Pan).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Universal patterns 8 Mar 2003
Science has opened the windows to the cold light of agnosticism by pushing back religion and diminishing the power of dogma. Universality in turn, shows that we are intimately connected to he universe in a most liberating sense. Universality emphasizes the interconnections between the elements of a system, whether these are the neurons in the brain or the droplets of water in a cloud. It also demonstrates that there is always a cause and that correlations can persist over very long spatial or temporal distances. The rise of universality is a result of the intellectual revolution started by chaos mathematics. In other words, universality is about the invisible force in the universe that is ubiquitous but still nameless, a force of order that is extremely powerful yet gentle. Ward examines the theories of universality, how they fit into a quest to discover the workings of the universe. He explores their possible limitations and considers what we can do with this new knowledge. He looks at the work of scientists Leo Kadanoff, Kenneth Wilson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Gene Stanley and Per Bak. The most interesting sections to me are those on the role of fractal patterns in our concept of beauty, fractals in the music of Bach and Beethoven and in Phil Thompson's work "Organised Chaos" of 1998 (which is based on the Mandelbrot set) and the determinable rhythms in finance and economics. Although modern physics is revealing more and more about particles (the very small) and the universe (the very large), it has not been focused on revealing much about the mundane and our everyday lives. Universality does this, in demonstrating how our bodies, our behaviour and nature are intimately connected. All of these different systems share a common principle, a single dynamic and a universal affinity. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The grand finale of a "trilogy" 19 May 2003
By Ashwin - Published on Amazon.com
Universality is a fitting finale to the lovers of the emerging sciences. While it isnt really part of a trilogy, for readers looking to travel the path of the fractal, this book is definitely the third and final, in a journey beginning with "Chaos" by James Gleick being the first, and "Complexity" by Mitchell Wardrop being the second.
The book is quite desultory and slow to begin with, in fact the action picks up briefly in the 26th page and then takes off from the 50th page. So stick with it. Much unlike its precursors however, Universality is less mathematical and abstruse and more easy to read. It covers a wide range of examples on systems displaying Universality and does well to throw light on the history of the theory's development to the current issues it is addressing.
A good book, definitely worth a read from your library.
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