Dazzling colour images illuminate this award-winning story of game-changing scientific theory..

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James Gleick’s chronicle, written in 1987, reveals a fascinating world of fractals, strange attractors and smooth noodle maps. He captures the astonished determination of its pioneers and explores its exciting and sometimes startling impact on our quest for knowledge. Today it is understood that chaos is not opposed but integral to the two other revolutionary theories of the 20th century – relativity and quantum mechanics. Moreover, it is now known that chaos has a hand, not just in the workings of the world we inhabit, but in the wider universe: the sun, black holes, and even the big bang. As well as Gleick’s 2008 afterword, this edition features colour illustrations that visualise the intricate beauty of chaos theory.

‘Where chaos begins, classical science stops.’ This sentence, from the prologue to Gleick’s enthralling book, conveys the dramatic impact of a theory that initially appeared to subvert the very laws of nature. Those laws were predicated on a degree of ‘special ignorance’ about the disorder inherent in every aspect of our world – from Earth’s atmosphere to the human heart. They assumed that Newton’s rules of motion provided ‘a bridge of mathematical certainty’, and that in any system – be it cotton prices, a waterwheel or a measles epidemic – small disturbances had minor effects.

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