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Introducing Chaos: A Graphic Guide Paperback – 4 Sep 2008
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'A beautifully succinct primer... highly recommended' Author: Time Out
"Introducing Chaos" explains how chaos makes its presence felt in many varieties of event, from the fluctuation of animal populations to the ups and downs of the stock market. It also examines the roots of chaos in modern mathematics and physics, and explores the relationship between chaos and complexity, the new unifying theory which suggests that all complex systems evolve from a few simple rules.This is an accessible introduction to an astonishing and controversial theory that could dramatically change our view of the natural world and our place in a turbulent universe.See all Product description
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Books in this series can be read in a day. They use a mix of text and cartoon style graphics to convey the key ingredients of a subject in a concise and straightforward way. The challenge of describing chaos theory is not a trivial one. Though it may require a couple of re-reads, the book does a pretty impressive job of introducing the key figures in the development of chaos theory, its key concepts and how chaos affects our lives.
I was intrigued for example to find Ray Bradbury Zen in the Art of Writingas the author of `A Sound of Thunder' a short story which predates the development of chaos theory.
At the heart of chaos is that complex systems, which meet a small number of criteria, will produce outcomes that are deterministic, but not predictable. This seems a paradox, and as Niels Bohr said
"How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress."
What is startling is that systems don't have to be very complex to be classed as complex, and the criteria, such as non-linear feedback can be found in most systems. The result is that chaos is all around us. What is intriguing is that science, and our desire to understand has led us to simplify our models of the world in such a way that we've created an alternate chaos free world. When we try to understand we trim off the twiddly bits and treat systems as linear. So for example our geometry is based on straight lines, yet in nature everything is raggedy edged. The fractal, is a way of seeing and appreciating the raggedness of the world and this is explored further in a related title in the series, Introducing Fractal Geometry.
This volume provides an easily accessible introduction to what is I believe an important element of any real understanding of effective change processes,
Perhaps further evidence of a `strange attractor' at work are the references in the final chapter to the inherent understanding of chaos within non-western cultures and belief systems such as Taoism, Buddhism Islam and Sufism. It even includes a picture of a symmetrical fractal decoration of the vestibule ceiling of the Chenar Bagh Madresseh School in Isfahan Iran. Isfahan being one of the places I visited when invited to speak recently in Iran.