At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity

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Oxford University Press, Nov 21, 1996 - Fiction - 321 pages
25 Reviews
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 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.We all know of instances of spontaneous order in nature--an oil droplet in water forms a sphere, snowflakes have a six-fold symmetry. What we are only now discovering, Kauffman says, is that the range of spontaneous order is enormously greater than we had supposed. Indeed, self-organization is a great undiscovered principle of nature. But how does this spontaneous order arise? Kauffman contends that complexity itself triggers self-organization, or what he calls "order for free," that if enough different molecules pass a certain threshold of complexity, they begin to self-organize into a new entity--a living cell. Kauffman uses the analogy of a thousand buttons on a rug--join two buttons randomly with thread, then another two, and so on. At first, you have isolated pairs; later, small clusters; but suddenly at around the 500th repetition, a remarkable transformation occurs--much like the phase transition when water abruptly turns to ice--and the buttons link up in one giant network. Likewise, life may have originated when the mix of different molecules in the primordial soup passed a certain level of complexity and self-organized into living entities (if so, then life is not a highly improbable chance event, but almost inevitable). Kauffman uses the basic insight of "order for free" to illuminate a staggering range of phenomena. We see how a single-celled embryo can grow to a highly complex organism with over two hundred different cell types. We learn how the science of complexity extends Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection: that self-organization, selection, and chance are the engines of the biosphere. And we gain insights into biotechnology, the stunning magic of the new frontier of genetic engineering--generating trillions of novel molecules to find new drugs, vaccines, enzymes, biosensors, and more. Indeed, Kauffman shows that ecosystems, economic systems, and even cultural systems may all evolve according to similar general laws, that tissues and terra cotta evolve in similar ways. And finally, there is a profoundly spiritual element to Kauffman's thought. If, as he argues, life were bound to arise, not as an incalculably improbable accident, but as an expected fulfillment of the natural order, then we truly are at home in the universe.Kauffman's earlier volume, The Origins of Order, written for specialists, received lavish praise. Stephen Jay Gould called it "a landmark and a classic." And Nobel Laureate Philip Anderson wrote that "there are few people in this world who ever ask the right questions of science, and they are the ones who affect its future most profoundly. Stuart Kauffman is one of these." In At Home in the Universe, this visionary thinker takes you along as he explores new insights into the nature of life.
  

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Review: At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity

User Review  - Serene - Goodreads

Amazing, but he could have used a good editor. Read full review

Review: At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity

User Review  - Paul Roman - Goodreads

I have learned a lot from this book. Read full review

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Contents

At Home in the Universe
3
The Origins of Life
31
We the Expected
47
Order for Free
71
The Mystery of Ontogeny
93
Noahs Vessel
113
The Promised Land
131
HighCountry Adventures
149
Organisms and Artifacts
191
An Hour upon the Stage
207
In Search of Excellence
245
An Emerging Global Civilization
273
BIBLIOGRAPHY
305
INDEX
307
Copyright

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Eric Nehrlich, Unrepentant Generalist || At Home in the Universe ...
Who am I? About me: I'm an unrepentant generalist finding my way in a world of specialists. I started this blog to review books, but I now talk about topics ...
www.nehrlich.com/ blog/ 2005/ 07/ 12/ at-home-in-the-universe-by-stuart-kauffman/

JSTOR: At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self ...
At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. Roger F. Malina. Leonardo, Vol. 29, No. 4, 333-334. 1996. ...
links.jstor.org/ sici?sici=0024-094X(1996)29%3A4%3C333%3AAHITUT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-X

At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self ...
At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. - book reviews from Reason in News provided free by Find Articles
findarticles.com/ p/ articles/ mi_m1568/ is_n9_v27/ ai_17943271

At Home in the Universe
A Biologist at Home in the Global Economy. Scientific theories are often portrayed as too complex to be understood by non-scientists. ...
www.geocities.com/ ResearchTriangle/ System/ 8870/ books/ Kauffmans_Book.html

In Search of Solidarity: At Home in the Universe
I've been contemplating doing a blog just about the recent debate over teaching evolution vs. creationism (including Intelligent Design, or ID) in high ...
doubtworld.blogspot.com/ 2005/ 03/ at-home-in-universe.html

Alchemy, NK Boolean Style. Origins & Design 17:2. Dembski, William A.
Book Reviews Origins & Design 17:2. Alchemy, NK Boolean Style. At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self Organization and Complexity ...
www.arn.org/ docs/ odesign/ od172/ dembski172.htm

At Home In The Universe: Book News
Who's talking about your books? home · what is this? personalize. At Home In The Universe: A major scientific revolution has begun, a new paradigm that ...
bookne.ws/ book/ 0195111303/ at-home-in-the-universe

Stuart Kauffman on The Paula Gordon Show
Stuart Kauffman. Stuart Kauffman is a member of the Santa Fe Institute. êhe is an experimental and molecular biologist who is widely acclaimed for his work ...
www.paulagordon.com/ shows/ kauffman/

At Home In the Universe
At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. New York: Oxford University Press. Kauffman, S. (1996) Self-replication: ...
www.stanford.edu/ class/ symbsys205/ Kauffman.htm

ingentaconnect At Home in the Universe
At Home in the Universe. Author: Kauffman sa1. Source: Mathematical Social Sciences, Volume 33, Number 1, February 1997 , pp. 94-95(2). Publisher: Elsevier ...
www.ingentaconnect.com/ content/ els/ 01654896/ 1997/ 00000033/ 00000001/ art81568;jsessionid=fb2m8r0j37fr.alice?format=print

About the author (1996)


Stuart Kauffman is a member of the Santa Fe Institute. A MacArthur Fellowship recipient, he is the leading thinker on self-organization and the science of complexity as applied to biology.

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