The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex

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Macmillan, Sep 15, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 392 pages
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From one of the architects of the new science of simplicity and complexity comes a highly personal, unifying vision of the natural world. As a theoretical physicist, Murray Gell-Mann has explored nature at its most fundamental level. His achievements include the 1969 Nobel Prize for work leading up to his discovery of the quark - the basic building block of all atomic nuclei throughout the universe. But Gell-Mann is a man of many intellectual passions, with lifelong interests in fields that seek to understand existence at its most complex: natural history, biological evolution, the history of language, and the study of creative thinking. These seemingly disparate pursuits come together in Gell-Mann's current work at the Santa Fe Institute, where scientists are investigating the similarities and differences among complex adaptive systems - systems that learn or evolve by utilizing acquired information. They include a child learning his or her native language, a strain of bacteria becoming resistant to an antibiotic, the scientific community testing new theories, or an artist implementing a creative idea. The Quark and the Jaguar is Gell-Mann's own story of finding the connections between the basic laws of physics and the complexity and diversity of the natural world. The simple: a quark inside an atom. The complex: a jaguar prowling its jungle territory in the night. Exploring the relationship between them becomes a series of exciting intellectual adventures.
 

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The quark and the jaguar: adventures in the simple and the complex

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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 ... Read full review

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Contents

Prologue An Encounter in the Jungle
3
Early Light
11
Information and Crude Complexity
23
RANDomness
43
A Child Learning a Language
51
Bacteria Developing Drug Resistance
63
The Scientific Enterprise
75
The Power of Theory
89
Superstring Theory Unification at Last?
199
Times Arrows Forward and Backward Time
215
SELECTION AND FITNESS
233
Selection at Work in Biological Evolution and Elsewhere
235
From Learning to Creative Thinking
261
Superstition and Skepticism
275
Adaptive and Maladaptive Schemata
291
Machines That Learn or Simulate Learning
307

What Is Fundamental?
107
THE QUANTUM UNIVERSE
121
Simplicity and Randomness in the Quantum Universe
123
A Contemporary View of Quantum Mechanics Quantum Mechanics and the Classical Approximation
135
Quantum Mechanics and Flapdoodle
167
Quarks and All That The Standard Model
177
DIVERSITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
327
Diversities Under Threat
329
Transitions to a More Sustainable World
345
Afterword
367
Index
377
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About the author (1995)

Murray Gell-Mann, the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor Emeritus of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics. In 1984, he helped establish the Santa Fe Institute, where he now works. A longtime director of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Professor Gell-Man served as chairman of its Committee on World Environment and Resources.

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