News from the world of maths: Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's not very often that something I read makes me want to jack in my lovely job at Plus and return to study and research. But that is just what happened when reading "Sync" by Steven Strogatz.

The book tells the story of how questions from diverse areas — Why do we sleep when we do? How do fireflies flash in unision? Why does our heart beat? How do you link generators in a power grid? — have developed into a new field of study. This new field, which Strogatz calls synchrony, examines how order can spontaneously break out in complex systems. The role of sync in such diverse areas of science is fascinating, but equally fascinating is his evocative description of the process of doing this research. Strogatz describes theoretical concepts and research problems almost as if they were physical entities that you could touch or smell.

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