SYNC: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order

Steven Strogatz, Author
Steven Strogatz, Author . Hyperion/Theia $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6844-5
Reviewed on: 02/17/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-14-100763-2
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-7868-8721-7
Open Ebook - 223 pages - 978-0-316-33038-1
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Strogatz is a Cornell mathematician and pioneer of the science of synchrony, which brings mathematics, physics and biology to bear on the mystery of how spontaneous order occurs at every level of the cosmos, from the nucleus on up. In this eminently accessible and entertaining book, Strogatz explores the mysterious synchrony achieved by fireflies that flash in unison by the thousands, and the question of what makes our own body clocks synchronize with night and day and even with one another. He explores the sync of inanimate objects, inadvertently discovered by Christiaan Huygens in 1665 when he observed that his two pendulum clocks would swing in unison when they were within a certain distance of each other. A case of spontaneous synchrony occurred on the 2000 opening of the Millennium footbridge in London when hundreds of pedestrians caused the bridge to undulate erratically as they unconsciously adjusted their pace to the bridge's swaying—it was closed two days later. Strogatz explores synchrony in chaos systems, at the quantum level, in small-world networks as exemplified by the parlor game "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" and in human behavior involving fads, mobs and the herd mentality of stock traders. The author traces how the isolated and often accidental discoveries of researchers are beginning to gel into the science of synchrony, and he amply illustrates how the laws of mathematics underlie the universe's uncanny capacity for spontaneous order. Agents, Katinka Matson and John Brockman. (Mar. 5)

Forecast:Can order in the universe sell as well as Chaos (by James Gleick)? Perhaps so—readers will find this a delightful excursion into science.