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The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex [Paperback]

Murray Gell-Mann
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 15 1995 0805072535 978-0805072532 0
From one of the architects of the new science of simplicity and complexity comes an explanation of the connections between nature at its most basic level and natural selection, archaeology, linguistics, child development, computers, and other complex adaptive systems. Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann offers a uniquely personal and unifying vision of the relationship between the fundamental laws of physics and the complexity and diversity of the natural world.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this sweeping synthesis, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gell-Mann ponders the universe's mix of simplicity and complexity, regularity and randomness, as he ranges from quarks (the fundamental subatomic particles which he discovered) to complex adaptive systems like bacteria developing resistance to antibiotics, mobile robots, jaguars, and people interacting with and learning from their environment. Along with often technical chapters on information theory, time, biological evolution and the workings of the subatomic zoo of particles, Gell-Mann devotes special attention to superstring theory, the first viable candidate in physicists' search for a grand unified theory encompassing all the elementary particles and forces. Stressing the urgent need to control population and to preserve biological and cultural diversity, he advocates a multidisciplinary research agenda geared toward a sustainable future for the human race and the biosphere. $50,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Gell-Mann, a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist and a pioneer in the science of complexity, here examines that important concept, focusing on complex adaptive systems. Such systems are capable of learning and are able to adapt or evolve successfully. The intricate processes used by a child to learn a language, for example, constitute a complex adaptive system, as do the processes used by bacteria to develop resistance to drugs. These systems provide a context or framework for a stimulating discussion of quantum mechanics and the unified theory. Gell-Mann also explores topics such as natural selection, species diversity, and the evolution of human culture in relation to complex adaptive systems. While the topics are technical in nature, Gell-Mann's presentation is clear and will be readily understood by scholars and informed lay readers. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
Donald G. Frank, Harvard Univ., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Gell-mann is, quite simply, an expert in more fields than most people have a passing interest in. Added to this is a lucid, entertaining writing style, and the ability to knit together seemingly disparate concepts from the fields of physics, cosmology, genetics, information theory, evolution, behavioural psychology, sociology...you name it.
It seems a few people have been criticising Gell-mann for overextending himself, boasting about his own achievements or simply writing a dislocated, jumbled book. My advice to these people is to 'look for the patterns behind the apparent randomness', as Gell-mann might have put it (because they are there, all right), give him his due for his own (considerable) contributions to physics and admire his courage in even attempting to connect so many ideas, let alone succeeding as well as does.
I loved this book, and I think anyone interested in just about any aspect of science ought to like it too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It is an accessible examination of quarks July 13 2003
At the beginning of our knowledge of a nature of things there was a philosophy. Many years after from philosophy have passed the physics - science which wholly was allocated and completely should be checked by the facts of experience.
However it is impossible sometimes to do check up only by facts. It is possible to make of the facts sometimes such conclusions, that is simple to mind is not conceivable. Let us admit that it so. But it is impossible, and to reject, and all received by human conclusions. We want it or we do not want - in the beginning there was a business, and then word. I think it is patience do necessary!
Take the book and read it. The book - source of knowledge!
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I picked this up because I thought it was going to have some information about Ecuador (the Jaguar section) in it. It does--about one whole pages worth. The rest of the pages concern Gell-Mann's ideas on the inter-connectedness of things. Gell-Mann, for those of you who don't buy the Nobel prize-winning scientist collector cards, was the identifier of the Quark, that object that is smaller than what had previously been thought of as the smallest element (electrons are made up of a collection of quarks). This book is interesting but rough slogging at times as Gell-Mann tries to give you an instant understanding of the last ten years of modern physics. This should appeal to fans of Richard Feynman and Douglas Hofstadter, although the style isn't as smooth as either of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nobel Jan. 28 2003
I have no clue about this book or physics because i am only in Biology 1 but Dr.Gell-Mann visited my school and it was an honor to have him visit our school. He won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics after his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions.
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3.0 out of 5 stars good book Jan. 18 2003
By David
I did not find the author ignorant or anything in this book. I wanted to read it because I wanted to learn about quarks. Not all of the book was about quarks and I found some of these parts boring (specifically the stuff about how economics works and computers). The book talked about characterics that all complex adaptive systems share (computers, economy,living things). He does not tie this in with the quark. He does make some interesting points. It is a good book but not a great book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece from a Polymath Dec 27 2002
I agree with Mr. Leonardo Motta, Mr. Charles Aschbacher, and the Editor of the Kirkus Review. Please read their reviews.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too scattershot and vague Nov. 18 2002
By raboof
The tour from the infinitesimal and lonely world of the fundamental particle to the fully integrated and interdependent world that we live in as presented by Gell-Mann seems lacking in details in the most important parts. Also, the tenor of the book changes as his interest in certain topics like particle physics (for which he won the Nobel Prize) and environmental conservation increase and his interest in topics like mathematics, artificial intelligence and schemata dwindle.
His soft approach to this presentation of topics is refreshing and very informative. For the topics that he has an especially keen interest in, the book is a pleasure to read. At times, I felt that the topic of particle physics was finally presented in a way that was understandable to me.
The final chapters where Gell-Mann becomes excited about conservation is where he seems to go off the deep end, though. Contrasted with the previous chapters that were based on quantifiable data and hard evidence, Gell-Mann treats the reader to a lot of vague hand waving and allusions to the mysterious knowledge of native people. His generalizations are a little overboard (as are mine, I suppose) and his conclusions are not based on clear logic but rather guessing games. It would not be right to critique his stance on protecting the environment or his "let them weave baskets to earn income" view of lesser developed countries here in a short book review, but it can be said that if he wanted to discuss this topic, he could have at least provided evidence of the vast wasting and extermination of the environment and indigenous cultures that he wishes to stop.
Overall, this is a book that starts the discussion about our future. It contains a lot of physics (don't be put off!
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars El matraz escéptico
I recommend the reading of the interview of Gell-Mann with J. Horgan published in the book: "The End of Science". Read more
Published on March 4 2003 by El matraz escéptico
4.0 out of 5 stars Description of many of the fundamentals of information
Information is rapidly becoming the new currency of business and scientific advancement. To understand information in any area, it is necessary to understand what the fundamental... Read more
Published on July 8 2002 by Charles Ashbacher
3.0 out of 5 stars Confused Attempt at a Theory of Everything
The title of this review, and my low rating, are not meant as a condemnation Murray Gell-Mann as a scientist or visionary thinker. Read more
Published on June 29 2002 by doomsdayer520
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic trip throgh 20th century physics
Murray Gell-Mann is an odd combination of a brilliant and focused physicist and an curious and open citizen of the world. This book manages to showcase both sides of the man. Read more
Published on April 19 2002 by P. Antoniades
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice.
This book is a little strange, and tries to cover a lot of ground without gaining miles. The question is if it is worth it to buy and read. Read more
Published on April 11 2002 by Carlos Camara
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing...
This book is quite a disappointment even accounting for the fact that the scientific endeavors it outlines were just becoming "hot" when it was published. Read more
Published on April 8 2002 by Zentao
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