Making a New Science

James Gleick

Summary: An overview of a completely new scientific field

Score: 60 / 100

computer’s particular form of high-speed idiocy. (Monday, October 26, 2015, 08:46 AM, page 1511)

Self-similarity is symmetry across scale. (Monday, October 26, 2015, 08:48 AM, page 1525-26)

The fractal dimension of a metal’s surface, for example, often provides information that corresponds to the metal’s strength. And (Monday, October 26, 2015, 09:40 PM, page 1577-78)

Contacts between surfaces have properties quite independent of the materials involved. They are properties that turn out to depend on the fractal quality of the bumps upon bumps upon bumps. (Monday, November 02, 2015, 10:34 AM, page 1583-85)

Typical human lungs pack in a surface bigger than a tennis court. (Tuesday, November 03, 2015, 08:23 AM, page 1626)

Cohen had scoured the annals of discovery for years, looking for scientists who had declared their own work to be “revolutions.” All told, he found just sixteen. Robert Symmer, a Scots contemporary of Benjamin Franklin whose ideas about electricity were indeed radical, but wrong. Jean-Paul Marat, known today only for his bloody contribution to the French Revolution. Von Liebig. Hamilton. Charles Darwin, of course. Virchow. Cantor. Einstein. Minkowski. Von Laue. Alfred Wegener—continental drift. Compton. Just. James Watson—the structure of DNA. And Benoit Mandelbrot. (Tuesday, November 03, 2015, 08:29 AM, page 1663-67)

“Always nonspecialists find the new things,” he said. (Wednesday, November 11, 2015, 09:37 AM, page 2004-5)

Each scientist had a private constellation of intellectual parents. Each had his own picture of the landscape of ideas, and each picture was limited in its own way. (Tuesday, November 24, 2015, 07:46 AM, page 2722-23)

D’Arcy Thompson’s masterwork, On Growth and Form, (Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 10:58 AM, page 2952-53)

“In a structured subject, it is known what is known, what is unknown, what people have already tried and doesn’t lead anywhere. There you have to work on a problem which is known to be a problem, otherwise you get lost. But a problem which is known to be a problem must be hard, otherwise it would already have been solved.” (Tuesday, December 01, 2015, 09:22 AM, page 3356-58)

shorthand training—if u cn rd ths msg…—illustrated the point, (Monday, December 07, 2015, 09:18 AM, page 3729)

information was just a fancy word for unpredictability, (Tuesday, December 08, 2015, 08:37 AM, page 3817)

“At the pinnacle of complicated dynamics are processes of biological evolution, or thought processes,” Packard said. (Tuesday, December 08, 2015, 08:39 AM, page 3822)

crude enough to be summed up in three differential equations, the minimum necessary for chaos, as Poincaré and Lorenz had shown. (Tuesday, December 08, 2015, 08:47 AM, page 3871)

The trick gave three variables for the price of one. (Tuesday, December 08, 2015, 08:57 AM, page 3900)

An attractor’s dimension was “the first level of knowledge necessary to characterize its properties.” (Tuesday, December 08, 2015, 10:39 AM, page 3986-87)

the immune system, with its lymphocytes and T4 messengers, a miniaturized cryptography machine for encoding and decoding data about invading organisms. (Wednesday, December 09, 2015, 09:01 AM, page 4094-95)

Fibrillation is a disorder of a complex system, just as mental disorders—whether or not they have chemical roots—are disorders of a complex system. (Friday, December 11, 2015, 10:51 PM, page 4164-65)

But experiments by German researchers found that after some weeks the sleep-wake cycle would detach itself from the temperature cycle and become erratic. People would stay awake for twenty or thirty hours at a time, followed by ten or twenty hours of sleep. Not only would the subjects remain unaware that their day had lengthened, they would refuse to believe it when told. (Friday, December 11, 2015, 11:00 PM, page 4209-12)

Life sucks order from a sea of disorder. (Sunday, December 13, 2015, 08:41 AM, page 4357)

The six tips of a single snowflake, spreading within a millimeter space, feel the same temperatures, and because the laws of growth are purely deterministic, they maintain a near-perfect symmetry. (Sunday, December 13, 2015, 09:46 AM, page 4504-6)

published: 2015-12-13
last modified: 2023-01-21