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Wow. What a great book. I had no idea that this was a book about both math and physics. I'm a math major and a calculus two student and this book has helped me to get inside the thinking of a Mathematician. It helps to show what types of problems they work on and how they think as they attack the problems. It introduces one to the culture of Math and the real world applications of physics.
As with any audio math book, there are some parts where you might have trouble visualizing the shapes being described. I dealt with this by looking them on online later. but that was only about three times during the nine hour book. Overall, there were not too many parts where I could not keep up with the math. Maybe one or two times; however, it wasn't really needed to keep up with the flow of the story. The book is more like a story. I enjoyed the real world examples and the journey through much of the research that led up to choas theory. The book doesn't just introduce the people who's research led to choas theory; it takes one through the basics of thier experiements and results. You share in the triumphs and problems. Overall a great book for people who like physics, math, theory, and thought.
“The unpredictable and the predetermined unfold together to make everything the way it is.” ― Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
Half of what draws me to physics, to theory, to Feynman and Fermat, to Wittgenstein and Weber, is the energy that boils beyond the theory. The force living just beyond the push. I'm not alone. Many of my favorite authors (Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) and musicians (Mahler, Beethoven, etc) all dance around this same wicked fire. This burn of the natural world, this magic of the unknown, is what draws me to read physics and philosophy as an absolute amature. There are pieces and fractures in these books that actually DON'T escape me. They hit my brain and spin and keep spinning forever. I imagine this is something felt also by Gleick, one of the top tier science writers out there.
My big grievance with this book is it falls too short. His narrative is compelling, yes, the stories are interesting, sure, but he doesn't grab the central characters as well as a new journalist like John McPhee does. He floats too far above the actual science and complexity. He shows you pictures and dances around the pools of chaos and clouds of complexity, but never actually puts the reader INTO the churning water or energized, cumuliform heaps.
This is a book for an advanced HS senior or an average college Freshman. It is pop-science and definitely has its place. This is a book that is more about translating the story of the science (not the science) for NOT the layman, but really the lazy layman. That is probably one of the reasons it did so well. Anyway, I'm glad I read it, but just wish it was deeper, thicker, and way less predictable.