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Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order Paperback – 24 Apr 2003
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|Paperback, 24 Apr 2003||
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About the Author
Professor of applied maths at Cornell and one of the world's leading researchers into chaos, complexity and synchronization. His previous book, a textbook about chaos theory, is a true cult book within science.
Top customer reviews
Although I did enjoy this book,I didn't find it as thrilling and inspiring as some other people seemed to do.It does roll along pretty well until it hits part 3,where the ability of language and metaphor to convey non linear concepts of encryption and 3D sync left me needy in some respects.Although I was able to follow the general principles,it was still frustrating not to be able to fully comprehend some of the finer points involved.
Overall an entertaining popular science book,with a few moments of conceptual difficulties for non mathematicians,which can be circumvented without any deleterious effects to the whole.
Sync is about things in nature that synchronize without any central controller. Strogatz starts with the example of Fireflies that flash on and off together in their thousands. The book then takes us on a journey through a surprisingly large range of natural phenomena that exhibit sync and the science that is revealing how sync works.
This is a relatively easy book to read. There are no equations. The writing style is as good as any I have encountered. There are real and interesting characters and just the right level of humour. It is not a text book and does not pretend to be. It is popular (but serious) science done very well.
Best of all for me is the genuine excitement which the book conveys about this subject. It has inspired me to seek out other books on the same theme and I would definitely read another book by Steven Strogatz.
Drawing on Chaos & Complexity Theory, Strogatz examines the connections linking the phenomena of the mathematics of self-organization, where trillions of interactions result in order emerging from chaos. There is a steady and insistent pulse at the heart of the cosmos that resonates from the nucleus of the cell to the largest galaxy in a chorus of synchronized cycles that pervade all of nature.
The author refers to the work of scientists from many disciplines, including Einstein, Richard Feynman, Brian Josephson, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdos, Stanley Milgram, Boris Belousov Edward Lorenz and Arthur Winfree. Part One, Living In Sync, deals with these manifestations in for example human brainwaves and the behaviour of fireflies, whilst Part Two, Discovering Sync, looks at the universe as a whole and at quantum theory. Part Three, Exploring Sync, investigates synchronization, chaos and small world networks.
There are some black and white illustrations, copious notes and an index. This book is a fascinating journey through the strange and beautiful phenomenon of synchronization, the harmonious music of the universe that builds and sustains life.
The subject is described by the subtitle: "The emerging science of spontaneous order".
From complex forms of life (human beings and our heartbeat or our sleeping cycles) to simpler ones (fireflies that synchronize their flashes in densely verdant environments so that they can attract their match), sync appears to be playing an important role.
Interestingly, it does so in inanimate things as well: London's Millennium Bridge almost collapsed because of a synchronizing feedback loop between pedestrian stepping and the bridge's swaying. The idea in fact penetrates a range of scientific areas: The quantum world, chaotic systems (systems ruled by a vast number of parameters). Even Small Worlds (networks structured in neighbourhoods so that each node distances from any other by at most 6 links. Social networks is an example, yes you are most probably just 6 people away from president Obama!).
Some chapters (few) are quite difficult to follow. If you find yourself in this situation, just read them fast or jump to the next chapter, they are independent. And from the Pop Sci point of view the easy ones contain the most fascinating ideas.
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Most recent customer reviews
1/ Living Sync covers such things as Fireflies, Brainwaves, Sleep and the Daily Struggle fo Sync. The Conditions for Sync.Read more