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1. Chaos: Making a New Science
2. Isaac Newton
3. Chaos: Making a New Science
4. The Information: A History, a
5. Chaos
6. Genius : The Life and Science
7. Chaos the software
8. Chaos: Making a New Science
9. Nature's Chaos
10. Faster: The Acceleration of Just
11. Faster: The Acceleration of Just
12. What Just Happened: A Chronicle
13. Faster The Acceleration of Just
14. Isaac Newton: Die Biografie
15. Schneller. Eine Gesellschaft auf
16. La Théorie du chaos : Vers une
17. Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern
18. Faster: Our Race Against Time
19. The Best American Science Writing
20. Chaos: Making a New Science

1. Chaos: Making a New Science
by James Gleick
Paperback: 352 Pages (1988-12-01)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$5.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140092501
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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James Gleick explains the theories behind the fascinating new science called chaos. Alongside relativity and quantum mechanics, it is being hailed as the twentieth century's third revolution. 8 pages of photos.Amazon.com Review
Few writers distinguish themselves by their ability to writeabout complicated, even obscure topics clearly and engagingly. JamesGleick, a former science writer for the New York Times, residesin this exclusive category. In Chaos, he takes on the job ofdepicting the first years of the study of chaos--the seemingly randompatterns that characterize many natural phenomena.

This is not apurely technical book. Instead, it focuses as much on the scientistsstudying chaos as on the chaos itself. In the pages of Gleick's book,the reader meets dozens of extraordinary and eccentric people.Forinstance, Mitchell Feigenbaum, who constructed and regulated his lifeby a 26-hour clock and watched his waking hours come in and out ofphase with those of his coworkers at Los Alamos NationalLaboratory.

As for chaos itself, Gleick does an outstanding job ofexplaining the thought processes and investigative techniques thatresearchers bring to bear on chaos problems. Rather than attempt toexplain Julia sets, Lorenz attractors, and the Mandelbrot Set withgigantically complicated equations, Chaos relies on sketches,photographs, and Gleick's wonderful descriptive prose. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (115)

2-0 out of 5 stars Anecdote and Science
"Chaos" is far too much opinionated anecdote and far too little science. All the stories of brilliant mathematicians who worked out the theory, and all the silly physical scientists who couldn't see it was explaining their world, can't cover up the fact that nowhere does Gleick actually explain either the math or the physical science.

I came away with the view that there certainly are physical realities (in biology, hydrodynamics, electronics, etc.), that are explained by Chaos Theory, but no idea what the explanation is or how it works.

Poor book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, tantalizing, brisk popular science
Gleick traces the genesis of chaos theory by emphasizing the key personalities involved: Edward Lorenz in research meteorology; Stephen Smale, Benoit Mandelbrot, and Mitchell Feigenbaum in mathematics; and the experimental researchers in physics and biology who recognized some implications of and applications for the emerging theory.

Gleick's work has two central themes. First and primary is the description of chaos theory. Gleick begins by noting that chaotic systems, which are deterministic but which are not predictable, undermine the supposedly customary assumption of deterministic predictability and thereby revolutionizes physics. Gleick indirectly describes this chaos theory, observing its chief properties including sensitivity to initial conditions, damping and driving processes, global, or macro-scale stability despite local, or micro-scale, instability, representation through frequently unsolvable non-linear equations, and modeling through visualization, fractal geometry, and multi-dimensional Poincare maps.

Gleick's second and auxiliary theme is his critical commentary on the scientific and research process. Gleick suggests that interdisciplinary science produces innovative theories. Similarly, he suggests that scientists' tendencies to isolate themselves within their respective disciplines and to disregard, undervalue, or remain disinterested in results from foreign disciplines impedes scientific progress. Finally, Gleick favorably contrasts the contributions of experimenters with those of theorists and suggests that the former are more likely to address interesting, rather than merely conventional or solvable, problems.

Gleick's text feels brisk and intelligent. The author introduces many scientific ideas and personalities. Although the lay target audience of the book and its brevity preclude detailed discussion, Gleick tantalizes and supports further investigation with extensive source notes. Nevertheless, Gleick's work may frustrate readers who have knowledge sufficient to understand (and desire) more technical detail but who lack the experience or breadth of knowledge necessary to identify the general scientific or mathematical concepts alluded to. Finally, Gleick's non-chronological progression, sometimes rapid alternation between personalities, and occasional mention of names and concepts that are either not explained nearby or not at all may further frustrate readers.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good
Gleick does a great job of chronicling the many (many) intersting characters who contributed to the study of chaos and simplifies itenough to make it understandable. However, I think even a hardcore mathmetician/physicist/whatever would find it goes deep enough into the material to be interesting. Throughout the book he continually refers back to other people from earlier in the book. If you are anything like me you will not be able to keep these people straight and it gets confusing. I lost steam reading this thing about five times but eventually got through it. It was enlightening but not always riveting. If you are interested in chaos and learning about people much smarter than you, this is the book for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction
There are very few books on any field of science that can be read from cover-to-cover by a layman.This book captured my attention from the beginning and introduced a new way of thinking about science.

The math sections, whether discussing fractals, bifurcations, or attractors, where presented in very clear language that I could follow without advanced math education.

Other topics were presented with the same clarity and easy to follow language that made this book a rare treat.

If you are interested in learning about Chaos theory or any of its associated elements, I cannot recommend a better book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good narrative history of Chaos/Complexity
Mr. Gleick delivers to the reader a concise and approachable narrative of the history, science, and mathematics of chaos theory. Much as he did with his biography of Richard Feynman, Gleick managed to make the complex understandable for a non-scientist and manage to keep the reader engaged/interested. If the reader has an interest in chaos, this would one of the first books to read. Highly recommended (just sorry it took me 20 years to getting around to it!). ... Read more

2. Isaac Newton
by James Gleick
Paperback: 288 Pages (2004-06-08)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.55
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Asin: 1400032954
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Isaac Newton was born in a stone farmhouse in 1642, fatherless and unwanted by his mother. When he died in London in 1727 he was so renowned he was given a state funeral—an unheard-of honor for a subject whose achievements were in the realm of the intellect. During the years he was an irascible presence at Trinity College, Cambridge, Newton imagined properties of nature and gave them names—mass, gravity, velocity—things our science now takes for granted.Inspired by Aristotle, spurred on by Galileo’s discoveries and the philosophy of Descartes, Newton grasped the intangible and dared to take its measure, a leap of the mind unparalleled in his generation.

James Gleick, the author of Chaos and Genius, and one of the most acclaimed science writers of his generation, brings the reader into Newton’s reclusive life and provides startlingly clear explanations of the concepts that changed forever our perception of bodies, rest, and motion—ideas so basic to the twenty-first century, it can truly be said: We are all Newtonians.Amazon.com Review
As a schoolbook figure, Isaac Newton is most often pictured sitting under an apple tree, about to discover the secrets of gravity. In this short biography, James Gleick reveals the life of a man whose contributions to science and math included far more than the laws of motion for which he is generally famous. Gleick's always-accessible style is hampered somewhat by the need to describe Newton's esoteric thinking processes. After all, the man invented calculus. But readers who stick with the book will discover the amazing story of a scientist obsessively determined to find out how things worked. Working alone, thinking alone, and experimenting alone, Newton often resorted to strange methods, as when he risked his sight to find out how the eye processed images:

.... Newton, experimental philosopher, slid a bodkin into his eye socket between eyeball and bone. He pressed with the tip until he saw 'severall white darke & coloured circles'.... Almost as recklessly, he stared with one eye at the sun, reflected in a looking glass, for as long as he could bear.

From poor beginnings, Newton rose to prominence and wealth, and Gleick uses contemporary accounts and notebooks to track the genius's arc, much as Newton tracked the paths of comets. Without a single padded sentence or useless fact, Gleick portrays a complicated man whose inspirations required no falling apples. --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Customer Reviews (86)

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice Introduction
This book is a quick read and gives a broad review of Newton's life.If you're looking for more than a surface understanding of Newton, this book wouldn't be the way to go. Still, it gave me some more background on him and his work and helped me learn some of the important topics needing further study.In addition, the author writes in a captivating style.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
I'm fairly well versed in science, and I've been impressed by everything I've read by James Gleick, so I place him in the top echelon of science writers.This excellent biography of Isaac Newton is no exception to that pattern.

Newton was a scientist and thinker of nearly unparalleled brilliance and achievement, so there are many ways one could write his biography.Gleick chooses the tack of going with moderate length, and nicely balancing elements of Newton's personal history, personality, metaphysical assumptions, scientific methodology, scientific work, mathematical work, alchemical work, theological work, and relationships with colleagues.For me, this biography is as close to perfect as one could ask for.

I particularly like Gleick's detailed descriptions of how Newton and others wrestled to define their basic terms and concepts in conjunction with marshalling all sorts of evidence and arguments in order to propose and defend a variety of hypotheses and theories.In that sense, this book superbly describes the difficult birth of the paradigm of classical physics, featuring Newton as the lead character during this pivotal historical period.

After reading this biography, what are we to make of Newton?First of all, without a doubt, he was a genius at a level that few of us can scarcely comprehend, but he was still human, so he had his intellectual limitations and didn't always get things right.Secondly, he was a lonely figure, perhaps in part because of his upbringing.He was raised without a father and was distant from his mother, grew up poor (and died wealthy), had no wife or children (and apparently was a virgin), had no genuinely close friends, and routinely had strained relationships with his colleagues, sometimes to the point of bitter acrimony.All of this isolation may have focused his energy in a way that fundamentally contributed to his scientific acheivements, so one wonders what would have become of Newton (and world history) if he had lived a more "normal" life ...

Anyway, I very highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Newton, science, physics, mathematics, early modern history, etc.The only real prerequisite I see is having at least a vague recollection of high-school physics.Also, the unabridged audiobook is narrated very smoothly and engagingly (with a British accent) by Alan Corduner, so don't hesitate to give that a try.I envision returning this biography in the future whenever I need a dose of inspiration.

3-0 out of 5 stars Breezy, fast overview
This book reads like a longer version of an encyclopedia article with less details.It breathlessly jumps over large parts of Newton's life and doesn't spend very much time on the details.He relationship with Fatio was barely a chapter, but it's one of the most important parts of Newton's life.The man had a nervous breakdown after he left him, but it's barely mentioned!

Overall, I can't say I was impressed with this book.I think the wikipedia article on Newton has more depth and insight than this book.I was disappointed.

(Kindle edition)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brief and insightful biography of a singular man
James Gleick certainly never lets you get bored. This biography of Sir Isaac Newton - a man who lived an improbable eighty four years and in that time invented much of mathematics, classical physics and optics, postulated gravity, ran the Royal Mint, relentlessly persecuted forgers and secretly devoted a fair bit of his life to alchemy - is done and dusted in under 200 generously margined pages, so being of a short attention span is no barrier.

This is a great book: Gleick'sprose, while undeniably efficient, is nonetheless possessed of a disarming elegance and his analysis is insightful and engaging: I found myself lowering the book and staring into space pondering its implications a good deal.

We tend to think of Newton as the father of the modern enlightenment without concluding that, ergo, the times he inhabited were QED un-enlightened. This makes the amount and scope of a single man's achievement all the more stunning: parameters we take absolutely for granted - such as the measurable and consistent passage of time - for most purposes, just didn't exist:it was by Newton's singular and cantankerous will that we became "enlightened" at all. Science, mathematics philosophy and religion were simply not the carefully compartmentalised and ontologically parsed disciplines they are today: they were merely different aspects of the same tangled skein.

Gleick also records how indebted our now "untangled" skein is to Newton's ministrations: were the programmes of Robert Hooke or Gottfried Leibniz - great antagonists of Newton's in their day - to have prevailed, the uncomfortable suspicion is that our scientific landscape now might look very different. Newton's famous deference to the shoulders of giants was in reality uttered in false modesty with reference to a competitor, Hooke, whom he despised. That fact alone ought to trouble the more revisionist historians of science. Indeed, "a slightly naughty thought" occurs to Hermann Bondi: "we may still be so much under the impression of the particular turn he took ... We cannot get it out of our system".

Quite. This is a deft and elegant biography. Well recommended.

Olly Buxton

2-0 out of 5 stars Newton light
If you want a quick overview of Isaac Newton this book is okay. If you want a real biography read "Never at Rest" by Richard Westfall. ... Read more

3. Chaos: Making a New Science
by James Gleick
Paperback: 384 Pages (2008-08-26)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$7.92
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Asin: 0143113453
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The twentieth-anniversary edition of the million-copy-plus Bestseller

THIS EDITION of James Gleick’s groundbreaking bestseller introduces to a whole new readership the story of one of the most significant waves of scientific knowledge in our time. By focusing on the key figures whose genius converged to chart an innovative direction for science, Gleick makes the story of chaos theory not only fascinating but also accessible, and opens our eyes to a surprising new view of the universe. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars An historical introduction to chaos theory
This book is the first of its kind, which introduces a new branch of science, the chaos or chaos theory from the historical point of view. This theory is widely applied in the transdisciplinary field of meteorology, mathematics, physics, population biology, cell biology, philosophy, astrophysics, information theory, economics, finance, robotics, and other diverse fields. The author has done a tremendous job of putting this book together with very little mathematics. I found this book highly engaging.

A brief summary of the book is as follows: Chaos physics along with classical and quantum physics are required to fully describe physical reality. Physical laws described by differential equations correspond to deterministic systems. In quantum physics, the Schrödinger equation which describes the continuous time evolution of a system's wave function is deterministic. However, the relationship between a system's wave function and the observable properties of the system is non-deterministic (quantum physical phenomenon). The systems studied in chaos theory are deterministic. In general for a deterministic system, if the initial state of a system were known exactly, then the future state of such a system could be predicted. However, there are many dynamical systems such as weather forecasting that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. This sensitivity referred to as the butterfly effect which suggests that small differences in initial conditions (for example, rounding errors caused by limiting the number of decimals in numerical computation), yield different results, rendering long-term prediction impossible, hence they are called chaotic systems. In short these systems are deterministic; their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. But that does not make it predictable, this behavior is known as deterministic chaos or chaos.

It is difficult to determine if a physical system is random or chaotic, because in practice no time series consists of pure 'signal.' There will always be some form of corrupting noise, even if it is present as round-off or truncation error. Thus any real time series, even if mostly deterministic, will contain some randomness. Methods that distinguishes deterministic and stochastic (a process having infinite progression with random variables) processes rely on the fact that a deterministic system always evolves in the same way from a given starting point. Thus, given a time series to test for determinism, one can: Pick a test state; search the time series for a similar or 'nearby' state; and compare their respective time evolutions. Define the error as the difference between the time evolution of the 'test' state and the time evolution of the nearby state. A deterministic system will have an error that either remains small (stable, regular solution) or increases exponentially with time (chaos). A stochastic system will have a randomly distributed error. Thus one can see that chaos is neither purely deterministic nor is it stochastic. Application of chaos into cosmology and quantum physical phenomenon illustrates that chaos theory is indeed an important feature of physical reality which requires further development of this field.

1. Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos
2. Chaos and Nonlinear Dynamics: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers

4-0 out of 5 stars Keeps you engaged
"Chaos" made an interesting read especially for someone like me fasciated by the mysteries of the nature. It is as if the nature has been playing hide and seek with us and not revealing its true colors. At times, the narration drags a bit and needs extra concetration to hold on to the flow. But a good introduction overall to an"armchair scientist" like myself.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book overall, too detailed sometimes
A summary of the field and some contributors. Some figures are not labeled properly and some descriptions are too detailed.

3-0 out of 5 stars Insightful but tedious
Chaos: Making a New Science is intrinsically a bunch of short essays based on the author's research into a number of Chaos experiments and the scientists performing them. One after another with nothing tying them into some sort of progression or main point. Still, many of the stories were very interesting and thought provoking. Some even included insightful tidbits about the inspirations or influences that guided the scientists. But overall it was a tedious read with no real conclusion other than this theory can mathematically describe many seemingly random events.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book for non-experts
I am not a hard scientist, but I like to have some idea of what is going on in those fields. Books like this one are ideal for people such as me. This book tackles the fascinating field of Chaos Theory. It turns out that certain patterns recur over and over in many diverse areas of the universe, whether it is the patterning of galaxies in clusters or the price of cotton.

Specialists working in many fields independently discovered curious patterns, and eventually, starting mainly in the 1970's, they became aware of each others' work. This book takes physics as the field on which it focuses, but it mentions many others. Since some of these fields involve conscious human decision making (especially economics), I have begun to wonder whether I can find comparable patterns in languages, my own specialty.

There are many reviews of a previous printing of this book: Chaos: Making a New Science, so you can go there to check them out. Other books useful to non-specialists interested in the history of and current research in the hard sciences are The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality, A Briefer History of Time and Electric Universe: How Electricity Switched on the Modern World. ... Read more

4. The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
by James Gleick
 Hardcover: 544 Pages (2011-03-01)
list price: US$28.95 -- used & new: US$19.11
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375423729
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James Gleick, the author of the bestsellers Chaos and Ge­nius, brings us his crowning work: a revelatory chronicle that shows how information has become the modern era’s defining quality—the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world.
The story of information begins in a time profoundly unlike our own, when every thought and utterance vanished as soon as it was born. From the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long misunderstood “talk­ing drums” of Africa, James Gleick tells the story of information technologies that changed the very nature of human consciousness. He provides portraits of the key figures contributing to the inexorable develop­ment of our modern understanding of information: Charles Babbage, the idiosyncratic inventor of the first great mechanical computer; Ada Byron, the po­et’s brilliant and doomed daughter, who became the first true programmer; pivotal figures like Samuel Morse and Alan Turing; and Claude Shannon, the cre­ator of information theory itself.
And then the information age comes upon us. Citi­zens of this world become experts willy-nilly: aficiona­dos of bits and bytes. And they sometimes feel they are drowning, swept by a deluge of signs and signals, news and images, blogs and tweets. The Information is the story of how we got here and where we are heading. It will transform readers’ view of its subject. ... Read more

5. Chaos
by James Gleick
Hardcover: 354 Pages (2004)
-- used & new: US$17.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582881154
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Although highly mathematical in origin, chaos is a science of the everyday world, addressing questions every child has wondered about: how clouds form, how smoke rises, how water eddies in a stream. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars A huge effort
I can imagine the amount of effort done by the author to collect the different pieces together to construct a consistent line of thought along the whole book. Good piece!

4-0 out of 5 stars Order from Chaos
We all know things that are not predictable. These can be everyday occurrences like the weather, or more specialised events (whether the stock market will go up or down). The unpredictable plays a large part in "normal life". Yet for some of these matters, there is a nagging feeling that if sufficient information were known, the unpredictable would indeed be able to be forecast with as much certainty as whether the sun will rise tomorrow. Thus James Gleick introduces the topic of `chaos' - there can be a "sensitive dependence on initial conditions". If we were to know the initial conditions in all their details, predictability would be brought within our grasp. Thus the flapping of the wings of a butterfly in China could result in rainfall in Indianapolis.

At times I was lost in the small detail, but the strength of this book is that it paints a big picture. The mathematics (and physics, and chemistry, and biology, and .....) is sometimes beyond me, but the overall story is that there is `chaos' all around. Some of the chaos is linked into classic Newtonian mechanics, but strangely enough, chaos almost has in itself an order and `predictability' about it.

The three of the most significant scientific theories of the 20th century are reckoned to be Einstein's General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and ...... Chaos Theory. Before opening this very historical account of the last mentioned, I knew nothing about the theory of chaos. Now I have an awareness of the subject, and how experimentation can play a part in mathematics. Experimentation and mathematics are not normally uttered in the same sentence.

Look for the big picture, and do not get lost in the people and places, which can be bewildering. If you read this book, please ensure that it has colour photographs within it - the pictures are both staggering, and help to bring home the message. Some areas of chaos have their roots in self similarity, and the pictures from Mendelbrot sets are both staggering and fascinating. Self similarity can be best summed up by the classic (and anonymous) ditty: "Big fleas have on their backs small fleas to bite them, small flees have smaller fleas and so ad infinitum"

Gleick is strong on the history and roots of chaos, and how the ideas were received when initially tabled. There was shock and disbelief that others from external communities could have something to say that would have relevance to (say) population growth models, from totally different scientific disciplines. There was also reluctance initially to publish some of the ground-braking ideas.

Chaos is about non-linear dynamics, fractals, fractal boundary basins and much more. As `chaos' as a concept (and almost as a discipline) spread, rather than bringing order when chaos had existed before (and this could be described as one of the main purposes of `science'), evidence of more chaos emerges.

From study, it could be that there is more evidence of chaos than we thought hitherto. There could be chaos in space, and the onset of cardiac arrhythmias (heart attacks) seems chaotic. Gleick speculates that `evolution' is chaos with feedback. He has made me more aware of randomness. Classic determinism generates randomness. Perhaps, just perhaps, chaos is a way to reconcile free will and determinism. All in all, unlike the pure scientists of old, I now find myself positively looking for chaos.

Perhaps that is a mark of a well presented book.


4-0 out of 5 stars The stories that switch on the lights!
Gleick introduces chaos in an easy and understandable way, not relying on lots of mathematics.His descriptions of deterministic chaos are accurate and he recounts several stories to help the reader understand the context of the discoveries.Not a book for mathematicians, but rather a book for everybody else that loves a good story about where our current science views are coming from.Read this before you get into Holland and the rest of the manic gang.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must Reading
Being written in a comprehendible language, it is really a nice intelligent book presented and further inspired an innovative complex field of modern science.

No clue, whether a Chaos inventor was bestowed with any prize upon at all.
... Read more

6. Genius : The Life and Science of Richard Feynman
by James Gleick
 Hardcover: Pages (1992)

Asin: B001UBQ26Y
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars An engrossing story about a brilliant boy who never quite grew up
To my mind, this book certainly establishes James Gleick as a master of scientific biography.He weaves in all the elements we could hope for: biographic details on Feynman which give a coherent sense of the man and his life, insights into other famous people he interacted with (Gell-Mann, Oppenheimer, etc.), and plenty of substantive information on the ideas and development of 20th-century physics.And Gleick presents all of this through a buttery-smooth narrative which enabled me to glide along almost effortlessly, making this long book go by fairly quickly.I certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in Feynman or 20th-century physics, or who just enjoys reading a well-written biography of an interesting person.

Now let me offer a few personal thoughts on my impression of Feynman.From a technical standpoint, he had a formidably deep feel for mathematics going far beyond just manipulating symbols, and he had a similarly strong intuitive grasp of physical behavior, apparently related to a burning curiosity to understand how the physical world works.He combined this theoretical and intuitive power with a relentless creative drive, which resulted in development of quite original and useful mathematical and mechanistic models (eg, Feynman diagrams).Moreover, his creativity was linked to an individualistic and sometimes iconoclastic need to do things his own way, so he tended to avoid studying the work of others, didn't really collaborate much with colleages, and even periodically reorganized established knowledge in his own way (hence the Feynman lectures on physics).

But Feynman's curiosity was a bounded curiosity, as he seemed to have little interest in much beyond physics.This made him something of an uncultured philistine, with a resulting overall immaturity and (dare I say it) shallowness.We see this in Feynman's somewhat self-indulgent personality, as evidenced by a kind of defiant roughness and rudeness, episodes of selfishness, and considerable womanizing, sometimes with wives of colleagues (perhaps he was just never able to recover from the tragic loss of his first wife?).

In the end, I think Feynman was shaped as much by his limitations as his strengths.His unique combination of curiosity, technical ability, individualism, creativity, and passion gave him unique potential, and his limitations focused that potential in a productive direction.He seems to have been reasonably happy overall in his life, and he certainly helped make the world a more interesting place, so perhaps it was all for the best.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Account
Mr. Gleick's 1992 biography of Richard Feynman is an informative and enlightening journey through not just the life of the subject, but through the exciting world of physics from the early 20th century through the 1980's. While the first 100 pages were a tough read, the remainder was a reward; Feynman's brilliance and brutal honesty are on full display. Mr. Gleick does a nice job also of providing ample background on Feynman's colleagues/competitors/mentors, etc. and provides pretty clear explanations of the concepts brought to life by Feynman & Co. As a biography, this work is first-rate and highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well written review of Feynman's life and physics
As the subtitle of this book states "The Life and Science of Richard Feynman", this book is about both aspects of his life.This is not the book if all you are interested in are the funny stories that Feynman told about his life.Some of these are mentioned, but they are not the focus of the book.If all you want are the funny stories, then stick to "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" and its sequel "What Do You Care What Other People Think".Gleick provides much more.This book covers his whole life, from his early life in Far Rockaway New York to his death 69 years later in California.His schooling and his unique approach to scientific problems are detailed.Gleick shows how some common approaches pervade Feynman's approach to physics and how they enabled him to solve the problem of Quantum Electro-Dynamics. Along the way are capsule portraits of many of the scientists who interacted with Feynman (such as Hans Bethe, Freeman Dyson, Julian Schwinger and Murray Gell-Mann).Gleick also tells about Feynman's contribution to the development of the atomic bomb.Feynman's anecdotes make it seem that he was the court jester of the project, more interested in jokes and breaking into his collogues' safes.In reality, he impacted most of the theoretical aspects of the program.He was the youngest group leader and, among other responsibilities, was responsible for setting up the mechanisms to perform many of the required calculations as well as determining the approaches to be used for these calculations.He worked incredibly hard at not only his assigned tasks but also doing whatever was required (such as repairing mechanical adding machines) to get the job done.Gleick shows why Feynman was one of the greatest physicists of the second half of the 20th century and perhaps of all time.He also shows why he was the subject of such adulation, far more than equally important physicists such as Julian Schwinger (who won the Nobel Prize with him).

I must admit that I postponed reading this book because I was not overly fond of the two books written by Cleick that I had read previously ("Chaos" and "Isaac Newton").I did not get a feeling for the science of chaos from the book of that name and when I finished Isaac Newton I did not feel that I knew very much the man, other than the merest facts concerning his life.I was glad that I overcame my initial reservations and read "Genius".I found that, unlike the presentation in "Chaos", I did get a feeling for Feynman's physics and of the problems that he worked on.I also found that, unlike the presentation in "Isaac Newton", I got a feeling for Feynman the man and well as Feynman the physicist.

Gleick presents Feynman "warts and all".He shows him to be a womanizer, a seducer of other men's wives as well as bar girls.He shows him to be a man who neglected the mundane aspects of academia, such as: proposal writing, participating in university administration, grading exams and submitting course grades, taking on graduate students, and writing student recommendations.He forced others to do the work that he chose to skip.Had he been anyone but Feynman he would likely have been fired; but being Feynman he was given special dispensation to avoid doing these chores, a dispensation that he took full advantage of.Cleick provides explanations for Feynman's behavior, but does not try to psychoanalyze him.(I actually would have liked a little psychoanalysis; after all, he spent years going over Feynman's papers and talking to his friends, so some psychoanalysis would have been appreciated and appropriate.)As it is Gleick does provide many clues (such as the tragic death of his first wife), but leaves the analysis to the reader.

This is a great book for anyone interested in Richard Feynman (the man and the scientist), science, the history of science, and the background of modern physics.It does not give you enough information to solve problems, or to fully understand them, but the book does give you a feel for these problems and Feynman's approach to them. As previously stated, this is not the book for you if all you want are funny Feynman anecdotes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book covering a very interesting life
Gleick has provided first rate research and produced an very readable product on the life of one of the fascinating persons of the 20th century.

5-0 out of 5 stars An original mind
Adopting a definition of the word 'genius' as a 'truly original thinker', Gleick shows throughtout this entertaining book - how Feynman meets this definition. From his work on the Manhattan project to his investigation of the Challenger disaster, Feynman continues to approach problems from 'scratch' so to say. Feynman did not believe in reading his peer's papers - he believed in looking at the abstract and trying to figure out the contents on his own! He believed in solving every KNOWN problem first - before dealing with unknown tough problems. There are several insights into his 'problem-solving' approach - which may have seemed madness to some - but Gleick goes on to show how there was method to his madness - and how his peers were more than aware of his brilliance.
There are several great anecdotes - from Feynman's time at Princeton, Caltech, Cornell and Los Alamos. ... Read more

7. Chaos the software
by James Gleick
Paperback: Pages (1991)
-- used & new: US$12.99
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Asin: B000E3DD5M
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User guide on how to use CHAOS. The software explores and demonstrates aspects of chaos theory. ... Read more

8. Chaos: Making a New Science
by James GLEICK
 Hardcover: 445 Pages (1987)
-- used & new: US$47.35
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Asin: 3426263351
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9. Nature's Chaos
by Eliot Porter, James Gleick
Paperback: 128 Pages (2001-10-31)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$5.95
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Asin: 0316609420
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The essence of the earth's beauty lies in chaos, in the disorder of grasses strewn in a meadow, the blotching of green lichen on a tree trunk. Eliot Porter's photographs of the natural world, spanning thirty-five years and five continents-from an Antarctic ice floe to an American desert to an Icelandic lava field-reveal in mesmerizing ways what scientists are beginning to see for themselves: the patterns, relations, and inter-actions present in nature's disorder and wildness. This is the perfect marriage of image and text-brilliant full-color photographs by the preeminent nature photographer of his generation together with an illuminating essay by the widely praised author of Chaos. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful potential, poor execution
The paperback copy of Nature's Chaos that I received a few days ago is a severe disappointment. The fault lies entirely with the quality of the reproductions of some of Porter's finest work. Overall contrast is poor while the colour contrast blocks many details. The colours are generally off and in some cases there are errors of registration.

The original edition may have been better and the text is a revelation. But if this book interests you, spring the extra expense for some decent printing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Profound
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to listen...does it make a sound? Is there any sense, order or meaning to the universe beyond our human projections?

These photographs of Eliot Porter--selected to provide an illustration and counterpoint to James Gleick's eloquent text--are among the most rapturously beautiful ever produced. They are the visual equivalent of poet Wallace Stevens' attempt to grasp that which lies beyond the limits of sentience. Looking through the original hardcover edition is both an act of meditation and of homage--to the greatness of creation, in all its mystery, as well as to the human need to think, feel, and reach for meaning.As I journey through these images, I ask myself, do we look out upon the universe from afar--or do we do so from within, as integral parts of the greater mystery?Let go...allow Gleick's text to pose the question--and Porter's photographs to frame the answer.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great content, poor printing
I received my copy of the new (2001) printing of NATURE'S CHAOS earlier today. While the Porter photographs are both unusual and beautiful, it's great pity that this edition is poorly printed. I've not seen the original edition for comparison. In this printing, color is poorly balanced for many photographs, often to the point that the original vision is obscured. Plus, some photos are very "soft" and lacking in detail, which is surely the fault of the printers as well. What a shame, and what a surprise coming from Little, Brown.

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful work that captures the natural essence of chaos
As a graduate student, there is little time or mental space for pursuits beyond the academe-especially one that does not operate in the verbal realm. At nights, on weekends, and in reveries induced by deoxygenated library atmospheres I am a photographer. An early inspiration for me was Eliot Porter. Very early on I became enthralled by the careful studies of trees and fields. I was drawn to the intense, microscopic details in his works, which could not be characterized as minute in any regard. I was amazed at how, by capturing a dizzying array of detail in his work, he could portray the raw, intricate, complex beauty of something I had stared upon, vacuously, every day. Later, when I first became interested in chaos theory, dynamic systems and complexity, I enjoyed a new appreciation of Porter's craft. I found that in the visual sense I was always looking to portray the orderly chaos, or the chaotic beauty of nature. Once, whilst in the office of a professor that I am writing book with (about cognition-emotion interaction as a self-organizing system) I came across the book "Nature's Chaos" by Porter. I immediately recognized the photography and picked the book up from the shelf. To my amazement, Gleick, whose book "Chaos" started a revolution of sorts in the biological science community, was a co-author. I was enraptured. I borrowed it. I tried to buy it from my colleague. I wandered through used book stores on my way to the campus. I made inquiries at the publisher.


So I ordered it through Amazon.com. It arrived, ahead of schedule. I justified the price to myself because I had won a small award for a photograph that was inspired by Porter.

The book is astounding. The text is lyrical and erudite, it flows and meshes with the startling images. I can't say much more-but if you are a photographer, or chaos buff, or god-help you both, then this is a requisite volume. Don't hesitate. Ta panta re!

Jason Ramsay ... Read more

10. Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything
by James Gleick
Paperback: 352 Pages (2000-09-05)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$2.72
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Asin: 067977548X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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From the bestselling, National Book Award-nominated auhtor of Genius and Chaos, a bracing new work about the accelerating pace of change in today's world.

Most of us suffer some degree of "hurry sickness." a malady that has launched us into the "epoch of the nanosecond," a need-everything-yesterday sphere dominated by cell phones, computers, faxes, and remote controls. Yet for all the hours, minutes, and even seconds being saved, we're still filling our days to the point that we have no time for such basic human activities as eating, sex, and relating to our families. Written with fresh insight and thorough research, Faster is a wise and witty look at a harried world not likely to slow down anytime soon. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (41)

3-0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment
Having read Chaos, I was surprisingly disappointed with Faster.Gleick seemed to want to write about so many things, but never really had much more than a few short factoids about each.I was rather disappointed to find whole chapters of a topic comprising less than FOUR pages of text.Yes, this book is a fast read.So, for the person who seeks notches on his bookshelf, this is certainly a book for you!Of course Gleick discusses some very intriguing items concerning time, but unfortunately his execution falls a bit short of his other work.

4-0 out of 5 stars entertaining collection of observations
Jam-packed with information and covering subjects that range from Richard Feynman's observations of theoretical physics to the rise of MTV, this book reads, well, fastly.I got a kick out of it and learned a lot.It has a very large number of chapters which are not always that closely tied together, but maybe an obvious point is that that is the intent of the author, to make the book read like modern Western society, with information flying at you from all directions.If so, that may make the book a little harder to get in to and less conventional in style, but it also makes it more original, and in a sense, more logical because it is consistent with its own theme.Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.

2-0 out of 5 stars Faster: A List of Facts and Speculations
I obviously did not conducting enough research before buying this book.I am seventeen and this was an easy read, but I was hoping for and expecting a philosophical examination of our speedy lives.Instead I was bombarded by semi-interesting, useless facts about how our world has been struck by "hurry-sickness" and how everything has been accelerated (a fairly obvious fact).

If you are consious enough of our world to buy this book (because of its title) for yourself, it will not raise you conciousness with any deep philosophical questions or with any solutions.The only people who will benefit from this book are the ones who will never buy it for themselves.Therefore I believe this book is basically useless and slightly boring.

2-0 out of 5 stars I disagreed with the entire premise of this book
Gleick would like us to feel that everything, EVERYTHING is going faster. Ultimately, whetever you are doing now, it will happen faster tomorrow.

Sure, life is getting faster, but that's not the ultimate goal. People want to do MORE, they do not want to simply go faster.

To ignore the need for more is to miss the entire point of why we want to do some things faster: so that we have the leisure to do other things more slowly! I would like to finish my work faster so I have more time to cook a gourmet meal. I like to commute via bicycle so I can combine my workout and commute, but I certainly don't rush!

This book has a lot of anecdotal data, which is all very interesting, but doesn't amount to much. Some of the individual chapters give very detailed analysis of specific people or technologies, but Gleick never pulls it all together.

In short, interesting data, but not enough to support his position. And certainly not nearly enough to appease a skeptic.

4-0 out of 5 stars " The faster we are forced to go, the slower we may need to go"
This book has a lot of insights about various ways in which the ' pace of life and learning' have since the Scientific Revolution accelerated. In other words it is a book which gives one much to think about.
The problem is that it also suggests that given the vast increase of information available to us, the vast increase in 'possible alternatives' for our attention, that we will probably have our minds moved away from the insights so rapidly as to not even absorb them.
The obvious reply to such an intense barrage upon our consciousness, is to withdraw. And when we withdraw and close out all that is accelerating around us, we begin to try and make a pace and story of our own within ourselves.
The faster we are forced to go, the slower we may need to go.
I think a companion volume , or perhaps a contradictory volume should be written on all those human activities which might be aided by our ' going slower in them'. And along with this volume should be advice and recommendation of how to keep out of our life these seemingly endless intrusions which disrupt our living by our own rhythm.
"Run slowly, slowly horses of the night". ... Read more

11. Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything
by James Gleick
Hardcover: 336 Pages (1999-08-17)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$1.99
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Asin: 0679408371
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Synchronize your watches.
We have reached the epoch of the nanosecond. This is the heyday of speed.
If one quality defines our modern, technocratic age, it is acceleration. We are making haste. Our computers, our movies, our sex lives, our prayers -- they all run faster now than ever before. And the more we fill our lives with time-saving devices and time-saving strategies, the more rushed we feel.
In Faster, James Gleick explores nothing less than the human condition at the turn of the millennium. He shines a light of enterprising and analytical reporting -- as well as sly wit -- on the newest paradoxes of time. His journey takes us through the bunkers and trenches of a war we barely knew we were fighting: to the atomic clocks of the Directorate of Time, to the waiting rooms that focus our impatience, to the film production studios that test the high-speed limits of our perception, to the air-traffic command centers that give time pressure new meaning.
We have become a quick-reflexed, multitasking, channel-flipping, fast-forwarding species. We don't completely understand it, and we're not altogether happy about it. Faster is a mirror held up to our times -- and a mordant reminder of why some things take time.Amazon.com Review
Never in the history of the human race have so many had somuch to do in so little time. That, anyway, is the impression most ofus have of civilized life at the end of the millennium, and Faster:The Acceleration of Just About Everything only sharpensit. Elegantly composed and insightfully researched, Fasterdelivers a brisk volley of observations on how microchips, media, andeconomics, among other things, have accelerated the pace of everydayexperience over the course of the manic 20th century.

Author ofthe pop-science triumph, Chaos, James Gleickbrings his formidable writing skills to bear here, creating an almostpoetic flow of ideas from what in other hands might have been just amass of interesting facts and anecdotes. Whether tracing the modernhistory of chronometry (from Louis-François Cartier's inventionof the wristwatch to the staggeringly precise atomic clocks of today'sstandards bureaus) or revealing the ways the camera has sped up oursubjective sense of pace (from the freeze frames of EadweardMuybridge's early photographic experiments to the jump cuts of MTV'slatest videos), Gleick manages to weave in slyly perceptive oroccasionally profound points about our increasingly hopped-uprelationship to time. The result is the kind of thing only anaccelerated culture like ours could have come up with: an instantclassic. --Julian Dibbell ... Read more

Customer Reviews (64)

5-0 out of 5 stars Even more appropriate for 2010 than when written in 1999
Provocative, to the point and entertaining. What will it take to get us to slow down. Our physical beings cannot adjust to the rate of change technology and the western world's profit ideology commands of us.A must read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Move over John A. McPhee, coming through
The master of important trivia, John A. McPhee "Oranges" ISBN: 0374226881, is about to be surpassed by James Gleick, "The Acceleration Guy." The history of chronometry will never be the same.His insights on elevators are uplifting. He discuses the type-A personality and its misconceptions. I will not go through every subject as you do not have TIME to read this review, but I was surprised to find out what "God's speed" meant.

Faster: Our Race Against Time

3-0 out of 5 stars Fun and fast read -- take time out after to think about it
Not as deep as Toffler's Future Shock, but definitely a fun read. Instead of zapping channels on your TV this evening, pick up "Faster" and enjoy Gleick as he rushes through just about every time-related phenomenon in modern life. If you read carefully, you can catch the main points: (1) the minute you put a clock on the wall, time becomes a commodity and (2) it's not really speed, but shorter feedback loops, that has made everything faster. No big conclusions at the end -- dumps you off feeling the way you do at the end of an airport moving walkway. After you put the book down, take some time out to think about it and maybe find ways to slow down, at least sometimes.

5-0 out of 5 stars You will recognize your life in this book
No one who lives in our modern world needs to be reminded that things are going faster. However, the fact that we don't need to be reminded does not change the fact that we should have that fact pointed out on occasion. Gleick does that, and reminds us that there were advantages to the old days. When round-trip communication took a few hours or even days, there was the opportunity for reflection. If you sent out a nastygram, you had the opportunity to reflect on what you wrote. The very act of putting ink on paper took some time and forced you to do the proverbial "count to ten."
As all of us who use it know, that benefit does not apply to e-mail. When something happens, we send off an e-mail without thinking it through and then are forced to apologize or beg forgiveness later. The nuances in our speech and nonverbal communication also help us determine what the actual message is and is lacking in e-mail. The inclusion of emoticons helps, but they simply cannot replace what we are so accustomed to. One of the most amazing statistics in the book is the report that Americans spend slightly more than four minutes a day engaged in sex. Either we are not doing it often or are awfully quick when we do. No other statistic more accurately describes how fast things are going. This also means that a large number of people spend ten times more time reading e-mail than engaged in sexual activity. I personally know some people who live in the same house that communicate more via e-mail than face to face.
As accurate as Gleick is in his descriptions, the book was written before the advent of the ubiquitous cell phone. In fact, I could not find the phrase "cell phone" in the index. Therefore, things are now even worse than the descriptions in this book. While waiting for stoplights, I regularly observe the drivers going through the intersection. The results of my informal experiment are that approximately fifteen percent of drivers are talking on their cell phone. It makes you wonder how many people engage in sex while conversing on their cell phone.
This is one of the most accurate descriptions of modern life that you will ever find. Everyone who uses modern "conveniences" will recognize their daily life being described in these pages.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected/
I was a bit disappointed in this book.I had thought it would trace the history of the events over the past 100 years or so when technical development began to accelerate.Well told and interesting details of today's faster pace overcame my disappointment a bit.. ... Read more

12. What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Information Frontier
by James Gleick
Paperback: 320 Pages (2003-06-10)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$4.44
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Asin: 0375713913
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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For the past decade change seemed to happen over night, every night. Fueled by the exponential rise of technology, the digital revolution was difficult for many to make sense of, but James Gleick watched and analyzed, criticized and commended, participated in and prophesized about the instantaneous transformations of the world as we knew it.

What Just Happened is a collection of Gleick’s articles from this equally exciting and terrifying decade—remember Y2K?—that range from condemnations of maddeningly pervasive bugs in Microsoft software to the invisible shackles we wear in an “Inescapably Connected” world.Combining insight and reason with wit and passion, What Just Happened is an essential tour of our technology-driven mania.Amazon.com Review
This book of previously published essays by the author of Chaos and Faster is an eclectic chronicle of the information revolution's first 10 years. "The last decade of the twentieth century came as a surprise," writes James Gleick. What Just Happened shows how surprising it was: in the book's first piece, from 1992, Gleick notes that "a relatively small number of personal computer users use Windows." (He's a good sport about it, too, poking fun at himself in an introduction for making such an obsolete observation.) A longish piece on Microsoft from 1995 seems to correct the problem when Gleick comments on "the ever-advancing boundary of Microsoft's Windows package." Then it goes on to get something really right: "Microsoft's own power poses a threat, too--the threat that comes with the self-fulfilling destiny of any monopolist." That's a prescient observation, considering the antitrust actions taken against the company since those words were written. The closing chapter of the book is fascinating and forward-looking; it's not about what just happened but what may happen. Gleick anticipates the appearance of wristwatches containing "biometric information about your loved ones, so you can see how your parents are doing." If that doesn't sound exciting enough, consider this prediction: "One can even imagine properly functional motor-vehicle offices." Now that's something to look forward to. --John Miller ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

2-0 out of 5 stars For a Gleick fan, this was disappointing
I own half a dozen Gleick books.Unlike the others, if someone borrowed this one and didn't give it back, that would be OK.Maybe someone who would want to re-live the early, early days of the internet would like reading it, but then again, I worked for an ISP and created web pages from scratch in HTML in the mid and late 90s, and this book still was barely enjoyable.

4-0 out of 5 stars Funny and thoughtful, but somewhat outdated
I found myself keeping a list of all the things that he overemphasized, like modems, or the things he completely did not anticipate, like Google and Wikipedia.It was just too hard to remember what life was like in the 1990s without feeling a tinge of boredom.Still, I found the book funny in some places, and I applaud his thoughtfulness and willingness to be skeptical about technology.Many science and technology writers talk about certain inventions as if they're the greatest things, like we should accept a refrigerator that knows what's inside it and will reorder milk automatically with no question.Not so Gleick, he's frequently suspicious of the social consequences of our addiction to microprocessors and the internet.Privacy, identity and individual freedom weigh heavily in this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read it Soon , it is becoming more of a History Book every Day
A book about the Information Age that is of course becoming dated every day, but still a rewarding book to read. A book that forces a reader often in the midst of a daily struggles with technology to take a step back and review the progress that has been made when one is often so close too the action to appreciate it. The author gives a little overview to show the overall plan of the technology and where it is headed, and discusses some very interesting ideas, such a cyber-dollars.Money that would be good only for internet purchases, only ifpeople will have enough faith in an internet monetary system.The book is a collection of previously published articles by the author.The book is easy to read, thought provoking when discussing the future, and his summaries of the recent past remind the reader of the progress being made in just a years of the information age.Well worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Readable retrospective on the nineties in technology
It's usually a good sign when picking up a collection of essays to find that they have been previously published in some noted periodical such as The New Yorker or Harper's or in this case (with one exception) from The New York Times Magazine.Gleick's focus in these thirty highly polished essays is information and especially the Internet and how the Internet and related technology are changing our lives.There is a personal, and an "I lived it" quality to the writing that I found engaging.

Author of the challenging Chaos and the very long and adoring Genius about physicist Richard Feynman and the more recent Faster, here Gleick gives us short and easy to appreciate recollections of the communications revolution.His observations are trenchant, mildly apocalyptic and/or gee-whizzed, amusing and very well expressed.Having good editors is something Gleick says he has been blessed with, and in these pieces it shows.This attractive book is simply a pleasure to read.

The first piece is from 1992 about the bugs in software, in particular those in Microsoft's Word for Windows; and I want to tell you even though (or especially because) I use WordPerfect, I identified.I felt the aggravation.Gleick notes that software is unlike any other product in its complexity, an observation that no doubt pleases Microsoft's software engineers.However, he reports that Microsoft, unable to cope with the bugs munching on their code and unable or unwilling to excise them, came to an accommodation with the world by declaring that "It's not a bug--it's a feature," while compiling an in-company list of known bugs dubbed, "Won't Fix."

And then, I guess, had lunch.

My favorite essay in the collection is the one entitled "The End of Cash" beginning on page 143 in which Gleick notes among other things that issuers of digital cash cards expect to "profit generally from lost cards."He adds that "telephone companies and transit systems already figure gains ranging from 1 percent to a phenomenal 10 percent." (p. 152)This is an example of privatized "escheatment," an aptly named phenomenon in which governments have traditionally benefitted from lost coins and paper money, or people dying without heirs.Gleick reports that billions of pennies "simply vanish from the economy each year" which he cites as a "hidden cost of money." (pp. 157-158)But credit cards too have their hidden costs.They amount to a tax on those who do not use credit cards (basically the poor) because "the credit card companies have mostly succeeded in forbidding merchants to offer discounts for cash purchases."(So everybody buying the product shares the credit card transaction costs.)

Gleick also looks into the changes that a cashless society will bring, noting what kinds of crime will no longer be worth doing (e.g., kidnaping for ransom, armed robbery.)He reflects on the phenomenon of "float" in which digital money can be used by financial institutions to earn interest for themselves.Gleick observes that holders of the Yankee dollar at home and world wide (think of the large safe-deposit drawers of Arabian sheiks) are actually lending "their wealth to the United States, interest free, just as holders of American Express traveler's checks lend their money to American Express." (p. 153)

I also liked the essays on advertising ("Who Owns Your Attention") and on the growing lack of privacy ("Big Brother Is Us") and on the awesome power of Microsoft ("Making Microsoft Save for Capitalism").There are lesser essays on political websites... web browsing ("Here Comes the Spider") and software contracts between vendor and user ("Click OK to Agree"), etc.Finally Gleick notes that we are "Inescapably Connected" and gives on page 299 a weird but telling example of how we are being transformed.We are not yet "neurons in the new world brain," he observes, yet we have gotten so much in the habit of knowing things, or at least being able to find them out that "You get a twitchy feeling that you ought to push a button and pop up the answer."

I've felt that, and soon a connecting chip may be inside my brain that really does do something like twitch as my synapses are activated by the World Wide Web.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Unexpected Pleasure
This book wasn't what I expected.As [the] editorial review explains, but the book description only hints at, this is a collection of previously published work.Since I read the latter, but not the former, I was expecting a retrospective analysis of the .com bubble.Because of the rapid rate of obsolescence of most things written about the Internet, I don't think I would have bought the book had I known that parts of it were written as long as a decade ago, but I'm glad I did anyway.

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight at things written about the Internet over the course of the last decade proves to be an illuminating exercise.It definitely seems to be a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Some of the things that have changed a lot since the time the original articles were published are:
* Everyone knows what the Internet is (in his introduction, Gleick explains that in the early `90s, editors made him explain this when he used the term in articles).One of the really interesting things I learned reading the book is that the original development of the Web only dates back to 1989.
* In a 1993 article, he describes people being annoyed by mobile phones ringing in airports.Given the far less appropriate places they ring today, that seems positively quaint.
* In 1993, some people remembered who Dan Quayle was and cared enough to create a newsgroup devoted to making fun of him.

Some current issues that the book demonstrates have a much longer history are:
* Concerns about bandwidth and information privacy (or more accurately, lack thereof).
* Password overload (described in amusing detail in a 1995 column).
* The incomprehensibility of software and Web site user agreements - even to those who bother to read them.

As an added bonus, since it was written as technologies were emerging, the book provides the full name of things that are now only known by their acronyms.For instance, I've never known what ISDN stands for, but now I know that it's `Integrated Services Digital Network.'

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that some of Gleick's predictions were very prescient (e.g. the Y2K anti-climax), while others were less accurate or at least premature (e.g. cash becoming obsolete). All in all, the book provides a very enjoyable look through the rearview mirror. ... Read more

13. Faster The Acceleration of Just About Everything
by James Gleick
 Hardcover: Pages (1999)
-- used & new: US$107.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0356219321
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14. Isaac Newton: Die Biografie
by James Gleick
Hardcover: 260 Pages

Isbn: 3491962455
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15. Schneller. Eine Gesellschaft auf der Suche nach der verlorenen Zeit.
by James Gleick
Paperback: Pages (2001-09-01)
-- used & new: US$64.33
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Asin: 3404604970
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16. La Théorie du chaos : Vers une nouvelle science
by James Gleick, Christian Jeanmougin
Mass Market Paperback: 431 Pages (1999-01-04)

Isbn: 208081219X
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17. Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics
by James Gleick
Paperback: 544 Pages (1994-04-02)
list price: US$22.70 -- used & new: US$16.03
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Asin: 0349105324
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For nearly 50 years, until his death in 1988, Richard Feynman's work lay at the heart of the development of modern physics. Always controversial, Feynman was the key physicist from his days as part of the A-bomb-making team at Los Alamos in the early 1940s, until his discovery of the reason for the Challenger space shuttle disaster 40 years later. The book combines biography with an accessible account of his thought and its context. ... Read more

18. Faster: Our Race Against Time
by James Gleick
Paperback: 326 Pages (2005-08-18)
list price: US$18.60 -- used & new: US$2.71
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Asin: 0349112924
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Time is the datum that rules our lives. The frenetic purpose - more than we want to admit - is to save time. Think of one of those conveniences that best conveys the most elemental feeling of power over the passing seconds: the microwave oven. In your "hurry sickness" you may find yourself punching 88 seconds instead of 90 because it is faster to tap the same digit twice. Do you stand at the microwave for that minute and a half? Or is that long enough to make a quick call or run in the next room to finish paying a bill? If haste is the gas pedal for the pace of our lives, then multi-tasking is overdrive. This work dissects our unceasing daily struggle to squeeze as much as we can - but never enough - into the 1440 minutes of each day. Speed is the key strategy for saving time, and James Gleick shows us how in just about every area - from business cycle time to beeper medicine, from Federal Express to quick playback buttons on answering machines, from the pace of television to our growing need to do two things at once, speed has become the experience we all have in common - it, more than the message, is what connects us. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars I could hardly wait to read this book
There's only one bad thing about James Gleick's Faster.. reading it you are constantly aware that you really do live at a much faster rate than you used too.

As always, a detailed look at life from a different perspective. Enjoyed learning about the effects and reasons we feel that things are speeding up. ... Read more

19. The Best American Science Writing 2000
by James Gleick, Jessie Cohen
Paperback: 272 Pages (2000-09-05)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$13.02
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000H2MRY8
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

The first volume in this annual series of the best science writing by Americans -- meticulously selected by bestselling author James Gleick, one of our foremost chroniclers of scientific social history debuts with a stellar collection of writers and thinkers. Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg bracingly challenges the idea that the universe has a designer; Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Angier reassesses caveman (and cavewoman) couture; bestselling author and Darwinian theorist Stephen Jay Gould makes a claim for the man whose ideas Darwin discredited; mathematician and cognitive theorist Douglas R. Hofstadter explores the thought patterns that make the human mind unique; Timothy Ferris proposes a realistic alternative to warp-speed intersteller travel; neurologist and bestselling author Oliver Sacks reminisces about his first loves -- chemistry and math. The Best American Science Writing 2000 covers the full range of scientific inquiry -- from biochemistry, physics, and astronomy to genetics, evolutionary theory, cognition, and even ants.

Many of these cutting-edge essays offer glimpses of new realms of discovery and thought, exploring territory that is unfamiliar to most of us or finding the unexpected in the midst of the familiar. Harvard historian Peter Galison takes us into the Bern patent office as Einstein formulates his theory of special relativity; neural scientist Denis G. Pelli shows how Chuck Close's spellbinding portraits actually overturn conventional wisdom about how we see; the young surgeon Atul Gawande exposes the split-second decision making that goes on in hospital emergency rooms around the country. As James Gleick writes in the Introduction: "We need the news they're delivering. The more we read this year, the more we saw that our technocratic age requires urgent messages from the sometimes baffling, sometimes tumultuous frontier of knowledge." This diverse, stimulating, and accessible collection is required reading for anyone who wants to travel to that frontier.Amazon.com Review
Avid science readers know the value of good judgment. There's just toomuch out there to go through it all in one lifetime, so we learn toappreciate the recommendations of those we trust. Editors James Gleick andJesse Cohen took it upon themselves to select 19 eclectic pieces forThe Best American Science Writing 2000, resulting in a delicious,engrossing volume with something for nearly every reader. Whether relyingon well-known authors like Stephen Jay Gould and Oliver Sacks or surprisingus with a selection from humor publication The Onion ("Revolutionary NewInsoles Combine Five Forms of Pseudoscience"), they choose works thatcombine the best of exposition and aesthetic delight. The scope of topicsis broad: physician Atul Gawande reports on medical mistakes, Douglas R.Hofstadter ruminates on natural and artificial intelligence, and DeborahGordon gives an inside look at southwestern American ant life. Though theeditors cheerfully admit that they can't define science writing with anyprecision, they still please the reader with this important and enjoyablevolume. --Rob Lightner ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

3-0 out of 5 stars Misnamed or Misedited...be warned!
I liked many of the pieces in this collection and detested just a few.But overall I was very disappointed since I expected essays about SCIENCE, not essays about science history, about preferring music to science, about doctors making mistakes.I'm not saying those types of essays are not interesting reading, but I am saying they're definitely not about real science.Very few of the essays would actually enhance a university science course, for instance.

Furthermore, there would seem to be a weird bias present in the selection of the essays.A lot of them are from the New Yorker or the New York Times, hardly the places to go for good science (even though I do acknowledge that when it comes to newspapers the New York Times does better than most...which are terrible in general).There are some from the Sciences, Nature, but not many from places where real science essays are published.I suspect the net was not cast far in a search.How about Science News, Discover, Analog, Scientific American?I am also sure there were more overlooked great science essays in books that were not read (a few such are included and tend to be among the best in the collection).There is even a farcical "essay" from The Onion here!

Gleick explains/justifies this in his introduction claiming to take a "big tent" approach.After reading the volume I think he failed.The tent wasn't big enough to retain enough science to validate the title.

The essays I like in particular included Lord of the Flies by Jonathan Weiner, Antarctic Dreams by Francis Halzen, Interstellar Spaceflight by Timothy Ferris, Einstein's Clocks by Peter Galison, and A Desinger Universe by Steven Weinberg.

Two stood out in my mind as particular poor examples of science writing mainly because they embrace "anti-science" in order to be "witty."Natalie Angier's New York Times article "Furs for Evening, but Cloth Was the Stone Age Standby" examines the recent realization that 20-30k year old fertility figures are shown wearing complex textiles.She may just be reporting the shoddy methodology of some current archeological practices, but she proudly announces that the old assumption that men created these statuettes is wrong based on the detailed textile carving that requires detailed knowledge of such and the cross-cultural studies of the present population of earth that indicates women create cloth, not men.I think the announcement is quite premature and just as big of an assumption.It feels like one of those essays that projects present-day sensibilities on past times, a form of political correctness that has no place in science.

Worse is "Must Dog Eat Dog" by Susan McCarthy from salon.com.McCarthy attacks sociobiological thought but displays an astounding level of ignorance about the details of the theories involved.She attacks a straw man of her own invention in which men must be homeless, starving, lecherous slobs in order to validate sociobiology.She simply cannot have read some of the thinkers she attacks and have written the piece she did.She argues from a political motivation, not from a scientific one, and I was quite shocked to see this essay included."Witty" it may be, but science it ain't!

This is an interesting collection, but be aware of what is actually included here.Good science is going on in the world today, and people are writing about it, just usually not in the New Yorker.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not "The Best"
Although I enjoyed most of the articles, this was not exactly what I was expecting.It appears as though many of the articles came out of popular non-scientific publications (many from the N.Y. Times) and were written for a mainstream audience.Too many of them were articles of the "I'm a scientist and here's my story . . ." genre. One story was about an author's "nervous breakdown" and his decision to pursue a career in music rather than chemistry. A few were about the practice of medicine or medical research.They were interesting articles but didn't contain as much scientific information as I expected - I didn't really learn that much.I don't want to sound overly negative.I did enjoy many of the selections. However, calling this "The Best" science writing of the year is a real stretch.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Very Mixed Bag
The best essays were actually on the history of science. There were memoirs of very little scientific interest, some pop-observations of the field of science, some decent philosophy, some medical adventure stories. Not bad, but certainly not a general survey of good science writing spread over all the sciences, so not what I was hoping for at all. I would have to browse the 2001 edition before buying; certainly not an automatic purchase based on this edition.

3-0 out of 5 stars amusing, but very patchy writing skills
There were well written articles by generalists, and good pices by the people who do the research they writeabout.It's also hard not to enjoy Douglas Hofstadter, even if this was a somewhat weak piece of his.

Mixed in are pieces like Susan McCarthy (fromSalon) that use poor argumentative style (numerous ad hominem attacks, the use of Capital Letter sarcasm), poorly researched and develop no thesis of her own. Just scattershot bon mots and drive-by name dropping.

some good with the bad.worth an afternoon, the articles are light on actual content.pop-science.

5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific collection
In general, the BEST collections are the best of the best.First, the essays or books have been chosen for publication and then a few are picked for the collection.These are well written and interesting, covering several areas of science.I especially liked Stephen S. Hall's "Journey to the Center of My Mind" where he describes his experience of an M.R.I. of his brain while being assigned specific mental tasks.Fascinating stuff.And I loved "Lord of the Flies," excerpted from Jonathan Weiner's terrific book, TIME, LOVE, MEMORY, on Seymour Benzer's mapping the genes of the fruit fly.

Each essay in this collection takes you into the world of a specific science and the scientists who are patient enough to stay with their explorations and articulate enough to describe them to others.Some of my favorite authors are in this collection: Stephen J. Gould, Susan McCarthy, and Oliver Sachs.A treat for the mind.

~~Joan Mazza, author of DREAM BACK YOUR LIFE; DREAMING YOUR REAL SELF; WHO'S CRAZY ANYWAY? and 3 books in The Guided Journal Series with Writer's Digest Books. ... Read more

20. Chaos: Making a New Science
by James Gleick
 Hardcover: Pages (1989)

Asin: B000KYU4DE
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