- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (1 May 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 075381689X
- ISBN-13: 978-0753816899
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 892,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Small World: Uncovering Nature's Hidden Networks Paperback – 1 May 2003
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On reading Mark Buchanan's new book, Small World, you can see Kevin Bacon has a lot to answer for. As anyone who has visited The Oracle of Bacon will know, the actor is well connected: only two or three handshakes separate him from every other actor on the Internet Movie Database. Is Mr Bacon special? No. We are all of us--all six billion of us--only about six "degrees of separation" away from each other. Whenever coincidence prompts to say that "it's a small world", we have, says Buchanan, stumbled upon a piece of mathematics as fundamental to the natural world as Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Mean. "Small world networks" are everywhere, underlying diverse cultural, biological and even physical systems.
Buchanan has been quick off the mark with this book: the mature study of small world networks is barely four years old; so, naturally enough, the same pioneering names recur often as he outlines the field's development. But there is nothing contingent or flimsy about Buchanan's arguments as he stakes out the numerous areas for which this new science is already providing surprising insights.
One of the great surprise strengths of this book is Buchanan's grasp of social policy and the behaviours of governments and organisations. In an account that does its level best not to shortchange any application of a new science, it's good to see Buchanan addressing ordinary human applications with such authority and enthusiasm. This approach should reassure those readers who tremble at the idea that this might turn out to be "a book about maths". As far as that goes, the maths is pretty easy territory (spectacular, too)--and Buchanan is an excellent guide. --Simon Ings --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Good reviews coming in for this title: "Some of the conclusions are truly surprising."FOCUS "Enthralling"DAILY MAIL "Buchanan goes for the guts of numbers, the power laws that underlie every network from the Kevin Bacon game connecting Hollywood stars to worms' nervous systems."NEW SCIENTISTSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
My first reaction was of course (as yours probably is) "What a load of tosh" but I was certainly intent on finding out what this gent Mark Buchanen had to say. I was quickly convinced by his argument that this indeed could be the case. Not wanting to give too much away, the amazing idea quoted at the beginning turns out to be a deeply engrained result of the way almost any network in nature organises itself. The author compares the population network with other complicated systems such as the internet and ecosystems resulting in stunning similarities between systems that intuitively do not bear any resemblence. His statements into the theory come from intensive simulations carried out by scientists currently working in the field.
A very minor criticism of the book lies in the fact that this field of science is extremely underdeveloped. A very new subject such as this has little material on which to base a review book such as this. Consequently, much of the text involves looking at a small amount of network theory from different angles and illuminating with different examples. This however could be advantageous for those who like a more relaxed pace of learning.
Nevertheless I am glad that I picked up this book as it provides an extremely lucid and easy to read introduction to the fascinating modern science of networks. The book seems extremely accessible to the average member of the public - well worth a read!
Physics, biology and other sciences have uncovered a multitude of unexpected connections between the operation of the human world and the functioning of other seemingly unrelated things. Many networks that seemed to be random are turning out to have a hidden order as revealed by the discipline of Complexity Theory.
The most interesting sections are those on the Internet, on the spread of AIDS and on economic systems. The author's conclusion is that many aspects of the world are indeed simpler than they appear on the surface and that there is a hidden and powerful design that binds everything together.
This fascinating book confirms many of the findings that I have encountered in other titles like Universality by Mark Ward and Hidden Connections by Fritjof Capra. It concludes with a set of explanatory notes and a thorough index. Small World is a stimulating and thought provoking work.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Buchanan points out the hidden networks that tie together both the physical world and the world of consciousness, showing that amongst other things the Internet, electrical grids,... Read morePublished on 29 Oct. 2004 by Peter Uys
Anyone intrigued by tricky scientific problems and their solutions will be amply satisfied by this clear account of the "small-world" phenomenon. Read morePublished on 8 Feb. 2004