Chaos in the Cosmos: The Stunning Complexity of the Universe

Overview

As this remarkable book shows, we live in a universe beset with chaos. Highly acclaimed popular science writer Barry Parker shows - for the first time in a popular work - the amazing impact chaos theory is having on our understanding of the cosmos. Through vivid metaphors and imagery, Parker indoctrinates the reader into the fantastic realm of chaos theory, from the exquisitely detailed structure of fractals to strange attractors to stretching and folding space. He interviews the world's premier astronomers to ...

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Overview

As this remarkable book shows, we live in a universe beset with chaos. Highly acclaimed popular science writer Barry Parker shows - for the first time in a popular work - the amazing impact chaos theory is having on our understanding of the cosmos. Through vivid metaphors and imagery, Parker indoctrinates the reader into the fantastic realm of chaos theory, from the exquisitely detailed structure of fractals to strange attractors to stretching and folding space. He interviews the world's premier astronomers to discuss firsthand the challenge of applying these powerful concepts to the most intriguing paradoxes in astronomy; the workings of chaos in the bizarre tumbling orbit of one of Saturn's moons, the swirling migration of the great red spot of Jupiter, the explosive mechanics of pulsating stars, and the intricate dance of stars orbiting black holes. He also explains the exciting cutting-edge technology scientists employ as they learn - via computer images - to model accurately the movements of planets, suns, and even superclusters of galaxies millions of years into the past and future to explore the role of chaos in the mysterious genesis and fate of the universe. This burgeoning new science, like all brilliant theories, raises nearly as many questions as it answers. Is the universe a puzzle we will one day be able to solve? Chaos theory reminds us that unpredictability goes part and parcel with our dynamic universe. It also offers testimony to the elegantly complex structure of the universe. As Parker eloquently shows, this remarkable science, though still in its infancy, is destined to rank among the most potent and compelling forces that will shape the future of astronomy.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Popular science writer Parker (astronomy and physics, Idaho State U.) goes beyond previous nontechnical descriptions of chaos theory, which focus on the scientific potential and the mathematical elegance, and describes the radical impact it is actually having on human understanding of such phenomena as the tumbling orbit of one of Saturn's moons, the migration of the great red spot of Jupiter, the mechanics of pulsating stars, and the dance of stars orbiting black holes. Includes a glossary without pronunciation. Illustrated in black and white. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306452611
  • Publisher: Springer US
  • Publication date: 3/21/1996
  • Edition description: Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 307
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Introduction 1
Ch. 2 The Clockwork Universe 15
Ch. 3 First Inklings of Chaos 41
Ch. 4 Building the Groundwork for Understanding Chaos 59
Ch. 5 Strange Attractors 83
Ch. 6 The Transition to Chaos 105
Ch. 7 Fractals 129
Ch. 8 Chaos in the Solar System - Introduction 155
Ch. 9 Chaos in the Asteroid Belt 167
Ch. 10 The Strange Case of Hyperion, and Other Mysteries 181
Ch. 11 Is the Solar System Stable? 201
Ch. 12 Stars and Galaxies 217
Ch. 13 Chaos in General Relativity, Black Holes, and Cosmology 241
Ch. 14 Quantum Chaos and the Early Universe 265
Ch. 15 Epilogue 287
Glossary 291
Bibliography 297
Index 303
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