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Chaos – James Gleick *****

The book on the most amazing development in mathematics since the introduction of the zero – chaos theory. Has a nice dramatic style that highlights the importance of the people involved in the maths, but can’t detract from the remarkable implications of this fundamentally new understanding of how almost everything really works, rather than the approximations we are used to in science…
… at least, that’s certainly the feeling you’ll get when you read the book. But then you take a step back and think, okay, what chaos done for the world since 1987 (or thereabouts) when the book first came out. And you have to say – very little. Chaos is fascinating, but usually turns out to be fundamentally impractical.
Does this detract from the book? Not at all. It’s still a fascinating read after all these years, and even if the best chaos can give us is Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park it doesn’t cease to intrigue.

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Review by Peter Spitz

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