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Chaos and Harmony: Perspectives on Scientific Revolutions of the 20th…

de Xuan Thuan Trinh

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For 300 years, Trinh Xuan Thuan writes, since the time of Isaac Newton, scientists saw reality as a giant clock--a sterile mechanism in which one part acts on another in a deterministic fashion. But the discoveries of the last few decades have changed all that, conjuring up instead a universebrimming with unpredictability, creativity, and chance. Writing with exceptional grace and clarity, Thuan vividly describes these important scientific discoveries, intriguing new theories about chaos, gravity, strange attractors, fractals, symmetry, superstrings, and the strangeness of atoms. Equally important, he reveals how these discoveries haveshaped our view of the universe--for instance, how quantum mechanics brought indeterminism to the subatomic universe. Thuan deftly describes quantum mechanics, discusses its relationship to the theories of relativity (which deal with the universe on a massive scale), and comments on Einstein'sinability to accept it. Indeed, throughout Chaos and Harmony, he makes clear as never before the mind-bending ideas of modern physics, such as the effect of gravity on time (it slows it down), the impossibility of crossing the speed-of-light barrier (it would actually reverse time), the role offractals as "the language of nature," and the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in understanding the universe. From the subatomic world to the vast realm of quasars and galaxies, from the nature of mathematics to the fractal characteristics of the human circulatory system, Trinh Xuan Thuan takes us on a breathtaking tour of the universe. With striking examples and clear, plain language, he shows howscience has actually restored mystery to the world around us--a world of symmetry and chaos, contingency and creativity.… (més)
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> « Le chaos et l'harmonie » La fabrication du Réel, de Trinh Xuan THUAN (1998 - Ed. Fayard, collection "le temps des sciences" - 480 p.)
Plongeons-nous dans cet ouvrage passionnant de Trinh Xuan Thuan, le très célèbre professeur d’astronomie de l’Université de Virginie et auteur de "La Mélodie secrète" (voir 3e millénaire n°20, “Les grandes questions de l’astrophysique"). Il nous guide vers la nouvelle vision du monde induite par les découvertes scientifiques de ce siècle qui s’achève.
« J’ai voulu retracer ici, dans un langage simple et au travers d’exemples tirés de l’astrophysique, de la physique, de la biologie et des mathématiques, le développement des idées qui ont mené à cette nouvelle vision du monde. L’ouvrage s’adresse à l’“honnête homme", non pourvu de bagage technique, mais curieux des extraordinaires avancées de la science au cours du XXe siècle, ainsi que de leurs implications philosophiques et théologiques : pourquoi Beauté et Vérité vont-elles de pair ? Comment la Nature se sert-elle de subtils principes de symétrie pour imposer une profonde unité et harmonie au monde physique ? Pourquoi l’homme est-il doué d’une "déraisonnable efficacité" à comprendre l’univers ? Se peut-il que ce soit pour lui donner un sens ? »
Sont abordées, entre autres, les notions suivantes : le chaos, la symétrie, les trous noirs, les récentes découvertes en physique des particules, les principes émergents d’auto-organisation et de complexité. --Revue 3e millénaire, Printemps 1998
  Joop-le-philosophe | Mar 13, 2019 |
Another reductionism-burying "holist," but he doesn't go off the deep end and has written a pretty good book.
  fpagan | Dec 28, 2006 |
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For 300 years, Trinh Xuan Thuan writes, since the time of Isaac Newton, scientists saw reality as a giant clock--a sterile mechanism in which one part acts on another in a deterministic fashion. But the discoveries of the last few decades have changed all that, conjuring up instead a universebrimming with unpredictability, creativity, and chance. Writing with exceptional grace and clarity, Thuan vividly describes these important scientific discoveries, intriguing new theories about chaos, gravity, strange attractors, fractals, symmetry, superstrings, and the strangeness of atoms. Equally important, he reveals how these discoveries haveshaped our view of the universe--for instance, how quantum mechanics brought indeterminism to the subatomic universe. Thuan deftly describes quantum mechanics, discusses its relationship to the theories of relativity (which deal with the universe on a massive scale), and comments on Einstein'sinability to accept it. Indeed, throughout Chaos and Harmony, he makes clear as never before the mind-bending ideas of modern physics, such as the effect of gravity on time (it slows it down), the impossibility of crossing the speed-of-light barrier (it would actually reverse time), the role offractals as "the language of nature," and the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in understanding the universe. From the subatomic world to the vast realm of quasars and galaxies, from the nature of mathematics to the fractal characteristics of the human circulatory system, Trinh Xuan Thuan takes us on a breathtaking tour of the universe. With striking examples and clear, plain language, he shows howscience has actually restored mystery to the world around us--a world of symmetry and chaos, contingency and creativity.

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