of books by James Gleick

JAMES GLEICK (b. 1954) is a science journalist and worked as both an editor and reporter for The New York Times. Gleick writes on science and culture.

Chaos. Making a new Science
by James Gleick
Penguin Books, 1987, 2008
This book recounts the story of the development of Chaos theory. This theory deals with seemingly intractable mathematical description of natural forms that appear to be stable but constantly vary in their details. Not only are they non-linear, but highly dynamic and can only be understood by reconstructing their development, rather than describing their current form. In particular, chaos theory assumes deterministic behavior, albeit with a large dose of uncertainty because small mistakes in having the correct starting conditions of the systems can dramatically alter the predicted outcome. Chaos theory deals with complex systems that are the result of a large number of inputs, each of which with a very different influence. The total outcome of such system, then, can only be 'predicted' if every single one of this inputs are known exactly, which they are not.

October 16, 2010 /  © 2010 Lukas K. Buehler / go back to Book Review Home