Black Mischief: The Mechanics of Modern Science

David Berlinski, Author
David Berlinski, Author William Morrow & Company $0 (344p) ISBN 978-0-688-04404-6
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Berlinski (author of the notable On Systems Analysis has saturated himself in advanced mathematics, analytical philosophy and, to some degree, modern linguistics. Here he swarms over the reader from each of these directions, describing in amusing-to-ribald fashion his experiences in labs and at seminars with famed scientists in San Francisco, Paris, Vienna, Trieste and elsewhere. His theme: that contemporary science, with its almost-daily discoveries and apparent marvels, seems firmly oriented toward the future, but underlying its key assumptions is a ""system of belief'' still tied to 19th century mechanistic determinism despite the innovations of Einstein, quantum mechanics, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and molecular biology. Berlinski's intellectual roller-coaster comes at last to the notion of randomness, and in brilliant but dizzying final chapters that discuss DNA, catastrophe theory, metric space and ``life as a language-like system,'' he seems to arrive at a nonmystical vitalism that may well bring his peers to their feetcheering or protesting. (March 25)
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