Chapters and Questions to focus on:ISBN: 0140092501


Chaos-Making a New Science by James Gleick


Some Key Words


1) "The Butterfly Effect" (pages 9-31)


1a) Who is Edward Lorenz?

1b) What does the term "toy weather" mean?

1c) How did Lorentz discover the phenomenon called "sensitive dependence on initial conditions"?

1d) How did his computer "misbehave"? Was his discovery an "accident"?

1e) Why is weather forecasting "doomed"? Why bother forecasting, then?

1f) How can there be order in randomness?

1g) How can there be unpredictability in a deterministic system?

1h) Why the colorful name "Butterfly Effect" was coined?

1i) Why do you think these discoveries were only made in the last few decades?

1j) Do a rough sketch of the Lorenz Attractor.



2) "Life's Ups and Downs" (pages 57-80)


2a) What does H. Gold mean about "reasonable biological behavior"?

2b) How can a complex ecological problem be simplified to a mathematical model?

2c) Why do population models involve iteration and feedback?

2d) Why do realistic models have to be nonlinear?

2e) What is the "logistic difference equation"?

2f) What do we mean by "chaotic behavior" of a system?

2g) What does S. Ulam refer to when comparing "nonlinear science" to calling zoology "the study of nonelephants animals"?

2h) What is the "period doubling route to chaos"?

2i) What is a "bifurcation diagram"?

2j) Do a rough sketch of the bifurcation diagram for the logistic equation.



3) "A Geometry of Nature" (pages 81-118)


3a) Who was Benoit Mandelbrot?

3b) What fields did he study?

3c) What is the answer to his question "How Long is the Coast of Britain"?

3d) What is "Fractal Geometry"? How does it compare with "Euclidean Geometry"?

3e) What is the "fractal dimension"?

3f) Why does the author talk about "the monsters of fractal geometry"?

3g) Why do you think Mandelbrot's named his book "Fractals: The Geometry of Nature"?

3h) What are the "advantages" of a fractal network?

3i) What does Mandelbrot refer as "trash cans of science"?

3j) Do rough sketches of the Cantor Set, the Koch Curve, and the Mandelbrot Set.

James Gleick


James Gleick is the author of Chaos:

Making a New Science (Viking Penguin,

1987) and Genius: The Life and Science

of Richard Feynman (Pantheon, 1992).

Both books were Pulitzer Prize and

National Book Award finalists in the

United States and have been widely

translated abroad.


A native of New York, Gleick graduated

from Harvard College in 1976 and helped

found Metropolis, an alternative weekly

newspaper in Minneapolis. Then he

worked for ten years as an editor and

reporter for The New York Times. In

1989-90 he was the McGraw Distinguished

Lecturer at Princeton University. He

collaborated with the photographer Eliot

Porter on Nature's Chaos (Viking Penguin,

1990) and with developers at Autodesk on

Chaos: The Software.


In 1993 he and Uday Ivatury founded The

Pipeline, a New York City-based Internet

service that pioneered the first full-featured

graphical user interface for Internet access

from Windows and Macintosh computers.

He served as the Pipeline's chairman and

chief executive officer until its acquisition

by PSINet in 1995. Currently he is vice

president of the Authors Guild.


Now he is beginning work on a biography

of Isaac Newton for James Atlas' Penguin

Lives imprint.