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The Quark And The Jaguar


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A dazzingly written guide to the basic laws of physics and their connections to the natural world.

About the Author

Murray Gell-Mann, Professor Emeritus of Theoretical 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.


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. (Apr.)

'Reports from the cutting edge, presented with eloquence and style . it gives the dizzying sense that science is poised on the brink of a new world of discovery - a world stranger and still more beautiful than anything imagined yet' - F.T. ' Every once in a while a physicist, with a gift for writing and an empathy for the non- scientific mind, reports back like an anthropologist from Mars. Gell- Mann has written such a book' - SPECTATOR

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.

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