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

4.0 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 179,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
While it is true that there are now several books about complexity theory, what Gribbin has done here is, to my mind, truly exceptional - a fascinating, rollicking read that grounds contemporary thought in classical physics in a very unique way. I would recommend it to anyone seeking to understand the cutting edge of the area of chaos and complexity theory. As importantly, though, I would recommend it to those who are also seeking to understand the history behind this area. Because that is what Gribbin does so uniquely well - place in context cutting-edge ideas.
It certainly left me with the feeling not just that I vaguely understood current trends, but that I really understood where those trends and theories *came from*. And that, for me, is the hallmark of a very exceptional book.
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Format: Hardcover
I got this book as a Christmas present to help me decide if I should do physics for A level (I asked for a gamecube!) and I have to admit by the time I had finished it I thought the answer was a definite yes. It can be difficult sometimes to read, though, but I always thought this was because of the Far Out science and not the writing. A great book for anyone trying to get their head around the crazy fundamentals of it all. (Although dad, if you're reading this, I'd still like a gamecube!)
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