Chaos: Making A New Science by James Gleick
I have read Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick (Penguin Books, 1987) multiple times in my life. It’s one of my favorite science books of all time, it’s really quite a masterpiece.
Everyone knows chaos theory for, like, the butterfly flapping it’s wings thing, and then fractals and Mandelbrot sets and crazy-looking stoner images. The thing is, chaos is so much more than that. Those are maybe the most boring parts.
The whole field is fascinating how it can find a certain twisted form of regular order from what was previously thought to be noise. The actual math, the beauty in the findings, is something that exceeds even the beauty in most other parts of physics and science in general.
Plus, Gleick not only describes the foundations of the science, he also describes how it was formed and founded, which is an amazing story on its own. All these nonlinear dynamics people working on different parts of the same beast, slowly coming together over time to form something really progressive in science.
Just writing about this book makes me want to read it again. Such a great story!