Summary: A major scientific revolution has begun, a new paradigm that rivals Darwin's theory in importance. At its heart is the discovery of the order that lies deep within the most complex of systems, from the origin of life, to the workings of giant corporations, to the rise and fall of great civilizations. And more than anyone else, this revolution is the work of one man, Stuart Kauffman, a MacArthur Fellow and visionary pioneer of the new science of complexity. Now, in At ...show more Home in the Universe, Kauffman brilliantly weaves together the excitement of intellectual discovery and a fertile mix of insights to give the general reader a fascinating look at this new science--and at the forces for order that lie at the edge of chaos.
What we are now only discovering, Kauffman says, is that range of spontaneous order is enormously greater than we had supposed and, in fact, self-organization is a great undiscovered principle of nature. He contends that complexity itself triggers self-organization--what Kauffman calls "order for free"--and that if enough different molecules pass a certain threshold of complexity, they begin to self-organize into a new entity: a living cell. There is a phase transition when water abruptly turns to ice. Likewise, life may have originated when the mix of different molecules in the primordial soup passed a certain level of complexity and re-grouped into living entities (if so, then life is not a highly improbable chance event, but almost inevitable). Using the basic insight of "order for free" Kauffman illuminates a staggering range of phenomena. Darwin's natural selection has not acted alone, but in a persistent marriage with self-organization to create the majesty of the biosphere. A new slant can also be applied to the field of genetic engineering wherein trillions of novel molecules can be generated to find new drugs, vaccines, and enzymes. Kauffman extends this new paradigm to economic and cultural systems, showing that all may evolve according to similar general laws.
An exciting exploration into the nature of life, At Home in the Universe provides stunning insights into a new scientific revolution. ...show less