Chaos and Harmony: Perspectives on Scientific Revolutions of the 20th Century 1st Edition
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The most important aspect of a theory of science, in Trinh's view, is not that it be verifiable experimentally, but that it "allow beauty and truth to emerge into one." General relativity is a hallmark in this regard. Unendingly rich in insight and implication, as well as "inevitable, simple, and congruent with the whole," it has enabled cosmologists to range across the whole of time and to conceive of such phenomena as black holes and curved space. Trinh applies his beauty-and-truth criterion to various problems, such as where the moon--the largest known satellite in the solar system--came from, how chaos theory can properly be applied to economic modeling, and why nature seems to favor symmetry. Along the way, Trinh pauses to remark on episodes in the history of science and to make gentle but provocative asides (for example, gainsaying Einstein to insist that God does indeed play dice with the universe). Elegant and lively, Trinh's book is a fine survey of contemporary scientific ideas and a look ahead at science's ongoing quest for a unifying Theory of Everything. --Gregory McNamee
"Thuan's elegant prose vividly captures the interplay of chance and necessity that shapes our universe. An astonishing array of phenomena are woven together in a coherent way. Thuan conveys an appreciation of the complexity and beauty of our cosmos, and the excitement of our ability to understand
it."--J. Richard Gott, III, Professor of Astrophysics, Princeton University
- Publisher : Oxford University Press; 1st edition (October 10, 2000)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 366 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0195129172
- ISBN-13 : 978-0195129175
- Item Weight : 1.59 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,270,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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One thing I loved was his take on the 'unreasonable effectiveness of thought,' why mankind is able to understand such a complex universe, why the laws of nature are apparently universal, and he ties it all in to Plato's 'world of Ideas' (the realm of Forms), an oft-discredited theory that deserves to be taken more seriously, in my opinion. After reading Thuan's thoughts on the subject one skeptical of Forms just may see the light.
My only issue with the book is that, for it to be titled "Chaos and Harmony," he never actually tackles the harmony part and really only sticks with chaos in the first part of the book. So what about chaos and harmony? How are they linked? Are they really just different forms of the same thing? How do they in turn effect us both cosmically and philosophically? Even by spending more time discussing the anthropic principle he could have strengthened the book's implied thesis.
Overall, though, I came away more learned, as one should, with an appetite to continue learning, as one always should. The author put a ton of effort into his book and I hope that more people discover it and benefit from it.
But in cosmologist terms first : he pays attention to modern mathematics in Chaos and Fractals which puts him ahead of several Cambridge elitists whose books I've read! He seems to be aware that there is nonlinearity in ordinary nature. His language of education seems to be French which might
explain an astrophysicist who is willing to think about fractals in nature?
He has a section:
"The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Thought".
The actual quote is:
"The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics"
which makes one think he may consider thought and mathematics equivalent?
The neat fractal pictures of a space time at the Planck measure
of length on pages 182-3, make me realize that he may actually have thought about the question of limiting length
in a more than 'ordinary' way?
On "Harmony": one has in music Western 12 note scale harmony, Arab 24 note pentatonic harmony, jazz chord progression harmony and Chinese triad harmony. I'm not sure after reading the book what he means by "Harmony"? But I'm willing to let him promote it over many of the others whose books I've read lately on similar subjects!
He seems willing to consider new ideas.
In 1905 however, the world changed. Einstein published his first paper on relativity. Not long after that came quantuum mechanics. The physics of the twentiety century was to greatly change the view of the world. More complex, true, but also more in tune with the experimental findings.
This book is aimed at the layman and explains these fundamental changes in our view of the world. It also points to some of the unanswered questions that remain. Could it be that we are headed to another great change with a new Newton/Einstein in the wings?