By Steven Strogatz: Sync: How Order Emerges from Chaos in the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life



Who falls in that niche between pop science and textbooks I learned a lot about sync and it was a review of a little bit I knew about sync There are no mathematics in the main text but ou can get all the math ou want reading the publications he cites in the Chapter Notes sectionI felt things slowed down a bit when he talked about his research but it is interesting that they are working out the mathematics of human society interactions That brought to mind Iassac Asimov s Foundation series SF novels where the Foundation uses math to predict human progress and to positively nudge it in positive directionsI may read his Chaos book too For the most part thoughit reminded me of James Gleicks Chaos book in the way that the Sync story is conveyed with tales of maverick characters on the fringes of established science making serendipitous discoveries that lay around waiting for someone to slot them into a frameworkWithin this there are numerous enlightening insights and uirky facts about the rhythm and harmonies that universally pervade the fabric of existencewhich make it well worth the effort Although I did enjoy this bookI didn t find it as thrilling and inspiring as some other people seemed to doIt does roll along pretty well until it hits part 3where the ability of language and metaphor to convey non linear concepts of encryption and 3D sync left me needy in some respectsAlthough I was able to follow the general principlesit was still frustrating not to be able to fully comprehend some of the finer points involved Overall an entertaining popular science bookwith a few moments of conceptual difficulties for non mathematicianswhich can be circumvented without any deleterious effects to the whole This is a fantastic book packed with insights and wonderful ideas Its subject is the power of synchronisation or as the book s subtitle puts it the emergence of spontaneous order Our approaches to managing pretty much anything including organisations is based on increasingly complex structures of processes and control et this focus on plans objectives and goals appears to be absent elsewhere in the universeThe book provides a history of the growing realisation that self organisation is a powerful and inspiring force that can be found throughout almost all natural processes from those of sub atomic particles through to those that span the universeEntwined beautifully with the history and progress of this area of science Steven interleaves his personal experiences in the field which not only illuminate the bigger picture but also injects the sense of adventure and joy of discovery involved in the pursuit of new ideas In doing so it provides insights into how mathematics simulation and imagination can be entwined to explore new ideas The result gives a real sense of fun to be hadSkilfully Steve paints the picture of fascinating ideas whose core is fundamentally mathematical without recourse to euations Indeed the imagery he uses to create clear understanding is very impressiveThe book covers a lot of ground from the behaviour of massed fireflies electronic circuits the functioning of our hearts All these sources of synchronicity are explained beautifully and lead to numerous insights that will be of great value for anyone seeking an alternative to the current focus on increasing use of control as the basis for managing our people organisations and societyThe epilogue to the book points to a new dawn for science with an end to reductionist thinkingHighly recommende. Es from the electrons in a superconductor to the pacemaker cells in our hearts He shows that although these phenomena might seem unrelated on the surface at a deeper level there is a connection forged by the unifying power of mathematic.

Summary Sync: How Order Emerges from Chaos in the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life

To the cosmic Aside from its importance and intrinsic fascination the author believes that synchrony also provides a crucial first step for what is coming next in the study of complex nonlinear systems where the oscillators are eventually to be replaced by genes and cells companies and peopleI found it amazing that a book that is already ten ears old would ring so remarkably modernAs my own epilogue may I add that only weeks ago I listened here in the university of Cyprus a compellingly fascinating lecture by professor Focas who is also the chair of the recently established line in nonlinear Mathematics at the University of Cambridge Strogatz seems well ualified and certainly has plenty of subject matter The book follows a logical chronological order Analogy is employed to explain concepts in preference to using euations non linear variety I got the impression this was a wise choice In general Strogatz suceeds in greatly complexity of this cutting edge subject without over simplificationSome minor criticisms Print would be a little small for some readers A graph of the strange attractor would have helped clarity at one point I would have appreciated any comment on the sync of spiral galaxy arms which order themselves into density wavesOverall this book is well pitched with no obvious spurious claims sometimes tempting if a science is in its early stages I particularly enjoyed the chapter on sleep experiments and highly recomend this to anyone who has I enjoyed Steven Strogatz s Sync very much It is a rare book technical than a popular science piece et written extremely well with the same craft of writing as a NY Times science piece unlike many textbooks and thus easy to read and imparting a lot of intuition and insight Sadly I suspect that the group that this type of book appeals to is fairly small that is people who want something technical than a pop science piece et do not really want to delve into the gory details in a textbookThat said I enjoyed the book very much and highly recommend it Some of the interesting things in the book are the core discussion of how coupled oscillators tend to synchronize and in general how one gets the phenomena of synchronization This is described for simple two body systems such as earth and moon tidal locking two nearby pendulums or two electric generators in parallel The discussion of synchronization naturally leads to the topic of chaos and strange attractors I found the discussion of the Lyapunov time and the degree of predictability particularly intuitive and enjoyableThere is also a lot in the book about non physical applications especially those related to biological systems I found the discussion of sleep cycles interesting as I had never realized that our natural REM sleep cycle is synchronized to an internal clock that does not necessarily have to follow the 24 hour lightdark rhythm of the day There also is a nice discussion of the history of how this was discovered and the practical ramification that it is often difficult for people to fall asleep right before their usual bedtime and sometimes after staying up very late they sleep much less than might be expected Finally there is a good overview of some of the interesting connected effects in social networks including the famous paper on small world networks showing how having a few random links within a network dramatically cuts down the shortest path for communicationOverall I found this a very enjoyable book and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Nd Arthur Winfree At once elegant and riveting Sync tells the story of the dawn of a new science Steven Strogatz a leading mathematician in the fields of chaos and complexity theory explains how enormous systems can synchronize themselv.

This book formed the basis of a discussion group consisting of eight two hour sessions The members of our discussion group were mostly accomplished seniors retired from professions that reuired doctorate or masters degrees eg aerospace engineers doctors physicists mathematicians technology professors librarians science teachers etc About a third of us had no significant academic science backgrounds just high intelligence strong intellectual curiosity and an abiding love for scienceI must say that all of us without a strong academic science background found the class difficult The book was always fascinating but also complex and at times uite difficult to follow The hardcore scientists in the class were often very fru I have no criticism of the topics in the book itself They are interesting but the material is not always easy to follow for me anyway and I found myself skimming the chapters Nevertheless I do intend to go back for a second reading which I think will help me understand something in which I have a definite interest with the book having the potential to advance that interest The subject of the book is synchrony that is coupled phenomena which occur simultaneously Synchrony is all permeating in nature and is encountered in both living and non living matter while the underlying entity that unifies all these disparate phenomena is mathematics More analytically the book is a study of coupled oscillators entities that cycle automatically that repeat themselves over and over again at regular intervals Fireflies flash planets orbit pacemaker cells fire Two or are said to be coupled if some physical or chemical process allows them to influence one another Fireflies communicate with light Planets tug one another with gravity Heart cells pass electrical current back and fourth Nature uses every available channel to allow its oscillators to communicate with each other The results of these communications is often synchrony in which all oscillators begin to move as one that is occur simultaneouslyBut apart from the synchrony appearing in nature we have synchrony with the invention of the marvelous oscillators of the twentieth century electrical generators and phase locked loops lasers and transistors and superconducting Josephson junctionsThe underlying unifying entity of the preceding disparate phenomena naturally occurring or invented is the intractability of non linear mathematics But the reader should not panic The author does not use even a suspicion of Mathematics but instead illustrates the key ideas relying on metaphors and images from everyday lifeThe author concludes the book with a speculative but profound insight He points that even mainstream scientists begin to acknowledge that reduction ism may not be powerful enough to solve all the great mysteries we are facing cancer consciousness the origin of life AIDS global warming the functioning of the cell the ebb and flow of the economy And believes that nonlinear dynamics is central to the future of science As one of the oldest and most elementary parts on nonlinear science dealing as it does with purely rhythmic units synchrony has offered penetrating insights into everything from cardiac arrhythmias to superconductivity from sleep cycles to the stability of the power grid It is grounded in rigorous mathematical ideas passed the test of experiment and it describes and unifies a remarkably wide range of cooperative behavior in living and nonliving matter at every scale of length from subatomic. The tendency to synchronize may be the most mysterious and pervasive drive in all of nature It has intrigued some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century including Albert Einstein Richard Feynman Norbert Wiener Brian Josephson

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