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Chaos and harmony : perspectives on scientific revolutions of the twentieth century

Author: Xuan Thuan Trinh
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"For 300 years, Trinh Xuan Thuan writes, since the time of Isaac Newton, scientists saw reality as a giant clock - a sterile mechanism in which one part acts on another in a deterministic fashion. But the discoveries of the last few decades have changed all that, conjuring up instead a universe brimming with unpredictability, creativity, and chance." "Thuan vividly describes these important scientific discoveries,  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Xuan Thuan Trinh
ISBN: 0195129172 9780195129175
OCLC Number: 41871416
Description: xii, 366 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents: Truth and beauty --
Contingency and necessity: the formation of the solar system --
Chaos in the cosmic machinery, and uncertainty in determinism --
The austere beauty of symmetry --
The unbearable strangeness of atoms --
The creative universe --
The unreasonable effectiveness of thought.
Other Titles: Chaos et l'harmonie.
Responsibility: Trinh Xuan Thuan ; translated by Axel Reisinger.
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Abstract:

Thuan recounts how a profound change in our worldview has come about, as the Newtonian picture of a sterile mechanistic and deterministic world, which dominated Western thought for 300 years, has, in  Read more...

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Here is a valuable, broad-brush sketch and popularization of the interface between the simple and the complex, be it in the physical, chemical, biological, engineering or behavioural domain ... Read more...

 
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   schema:reviewBody ""For 300 years, Trinh Xuan Thuan writes, since the time of Isaac Newton, scientists saw reality as a giant clock - a sterile mechanism in which one part acts on another in a deterministic fashion. But the discoveries of the last few decades have changed all that, conjuring up instead a universe brimming with unpredictability, creativity, and chance." "Thuan vividly describes these important scientific discoveries, intriguing new theories about chaos, gravity, strange attractors, fractals, symmetry, superstrings, and the strangeness of atoms. Equally important, he reveals how these discoveries have shaped our view of the universe - for instance, how quantum mechanics brought indeterminism to the subatomic universe. Thuan deftly describes quantum mechanics, discusses its relationship to the theories of relativity (which deal with the universe on a massive scale), and comments on Einstein's inability to accept it. Indeed, throughout Chaos and Harmony, he makes clear as never before the mind-bending ideas of modern physics, such as the effect of gravity on time (it slows it down), the impossibility of crossing the speed-of-light barrier (it would actually reverse time), the role of fractals as "the language of nature," and the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in understanding the universe." "From the subatomic world to the vast realm of quasars and galaxies, from the nature of mathematics of the fractal characteristics of the human circulatory system, Trinh Xuan Thuan takes us on a breathtaking tour of the universe. With striking examples and clear, plain language, he shows how science has actually restored mystery to the world around us - a world of symmetry and chaos, contingency and creativity."--Jacket." ;
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