How Nature Works

How Nature Works : the science of self-organized criticality

4.02 (199 ratings by Goodreads)
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Self-organized criticality, the spontaneous development of systems to a critical state, is the first general theory of complex systems with a firm mathematical basis. This theory describes how many seemingly desperate aspects of the world, from stock market crashes to mass extinctions, avalanches to solar flares, all share a set of simple, easily described properties.
"...a'must read'...Bak writes with such ease and lucidity, and his ideas are so intriguing...essential reading for those interested in complex will reward a sufficiently skeptical reader." -NATURE
"...presents the theory (self-organized criticality) in a form easily absorbed by the non-mathematically inclined reader." -BOSTON BOOK REVIEW
"I picture Bak as a kind of scientific musketeer; flamboyant, touchy, full of swagger and ready to join every fray... His book is written with panache. The style is brisk, the content stimulating. I recommend it as a bracing experience." -NEW SCIENTIST
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Product details

  • Hardback | 212 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 24.13mm | 574g
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 1996 ed.
  • 9 Illustrations, color; 27 Illustrations, black and white; XIII, 212 p. 36 illus., 9 illus. in color.
  • 0387947914
  • 9780387947914
  • 345,975

Table of contents

1 Complexity and Criticality.- 2 The Discovery of Self-Organized Criticality.- 3 The Sandpile Paradigm.- 4 Real Sandpiles and Landscape Formation.- 5 Earthquakes, Starquakes, and Solar Flares.- 6 The "Game of Life": Complexity Is Criticality.- 7 Is Life a Self-Organized Critical Phenomenon?.- 8 Mass Extinctions and Punctuated Equilibria in a Simple Model of Evolution.- 9 Theory of the Punctuated Equilibrium Model.- 10 The Brain.- 11 On Economics and Traffic Jams.
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Review quote

..."written with panache. The style is brisk, the content stimulating. I recommend it as a bracing experience." - New Scientist
"This lively book, the title of which is admittedly provocative, is full of anecdotes about how science is being made and its style reflects the strong personality of its author." - Endeavour
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Rating details

199 ratings
4.02 out of 5 stars
5 32% (64)
4 43% (85)
3 22% (43)
2 3% (5)
1 1% (2)

Our customer reviews

This book presents the author's academic research work, namely the "discovery" of self-organized criticallity (SOC). It is a very interesting view on many natural events, which tries to bring together disparate concepts and knowledge. Requires some math skills to get the most out of it (i.e. understanding a power law, know what a logarithm and an exponential is, etc). I recommend this book for those who are interested in this type of more
by Nuno Fachada
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