- Taschenbuch: 368 Seiten
- Verlag: Princeton Science Library (Pap; Auflage: Revised (22. März 1993)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0691025665
- ISBN-13: 978-0691025667
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 14 x 1,9 x 21,6 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 650.750 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
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Laws of the Game: How the Principles of Nature Govern Chance (Princeton Science Library, Band 10) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 22. März 1993
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Fascinating . . . has the character of the deepest sort of discussion among brilliant friends.--The New Yorker
Remarkable, fascinating, and very profound.--The New York Times Book Review
Using game theory and examples of actual games people play, Nobel laureate Manfred Eigen and Ruthild Winkler show how the elements of chance and rules underlie all that happens in the universe, from genetic behavior through economic growth to the composition of music. To illustrate their argument, the authors turn to classic games - backgammon, bridge, and chess - and relate them to physical, biological, and social applications of probability theory and number theory. Further, they have invented, and present here, more than a dozen playable games derived from scientific models for equilibrium, selection, growth, and even the composition of RNA.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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As well as brief verbal mentions of some of the usual "chance in popular science" topics (game theory; quantum theory; evolution and population genetics; entropy and thermodynamical equilibrium and Shannon information) they describe a number of much more specific scientific topics, centered around their own expertize in biochemical reactions and structure. These are interesting and less standard topics, and every reader will be rewarded by learning something new.
An apt description of the book's style comes from a New Yorker review: "Fascinating .... has the character of the deepest sort of discussion among brilliant friends". But to my taste this style has two defects. The first: half the book digresses away from their "hard science" expertize to discuss classical (Platonic solids, Goethe, Marxist dialectic) and 1970s-fashionable (Chomsky, Prigogine, catastrophe theory, "limits to economic growth", Popper's 3 worlds and Eccles neurobiology) intellectual theories, without much coherence.
I was reading with a particular goal -- to learn what they have to say about "how the principles of nature govern chance". Only a small portion of the book explicitly addresses this question, and does so via over-broad, somewhat philosophical generalizations. That is, assertions that make sense conversationally as abstractions of the current topic under discussion, but which fail to stand up to scrutiny when presented in print as generalizations. Two examples. After correctly arguing that "fitness" is not a mere tautology, they breezily conclude (p. 59) "This combination of law and chance suffices to explain the tendency, inherent in evolution, for improvement over time". But the notion that short-term adaptation to succeed in changing competitive environments necessarily leads to long term "improvement" is far from obvious, as Steven Jay Gould and others have argued at length. And as thay say (p. 121) "all the protein building blocks in the entire organic world .... form spirals that turn to the left". As they argue, this (all left rather than all right) could plausibly be just the result of chance, as demonstrated by a simple model. But to equate this with saying "it was the result of chance" is a logical error, like equating "not guilty" with "innocent".
The authors don't address what I view as the central philosophical question. In various specific science fields one can set up "dice and rules" models which are scientifically correct, in the sense that theoretical predictions of the model are borne out by experimental data. Great -- that's part of how science works. But the implicit conclusion, that the natural world works via dice and rules processes, is philosophically naive. To see why: opinion polls can predict (via dice and rules) results of an imminent election, but this explains nothing about the process by which people decide how to vote.
Conclusion: read this book for a variety of interesting science vignettes and a very creative idea of illuminating science models as games; but be skeptical about any big picture conclusions.
Insightful, profound, but not condescending.
It is quite dense, but I find myself reading little random bits at a time.
A technical book that has changed how I think of the world as a professional scientist.
I buy people copies as gifts. I wonder if they like them as much as I do.
The second half of the book is simply a mess. It moves into issues such as population growth and music. These issues each have a separate chapter, which are linked only by the fact that mathematics is used for analysis. There is little in the way of conclusion or narrative so it is never clear why these issues are included. Furthermore, the language is awkward so extensive rereading is required and, even then, the points are generally unclear.
My only complaint is that it is very difficult to read. Translated from the German, it lost something along the way. I find myself rereading sections again and again- and not just because it's a little above my level of expertise but also because the translation is a bit opaque.
That complaint though is minor. Excellent work, and I'm ready to start applying this to software projects.