The tendency to synchronize may be the most mysterious and pervasive drive in all of nature. It has intrigued some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century, including Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Norbert Wiener, Brian Josephson, and Arthur Winfree.
At once elegant and riveting, Sync tells the story of the dawn of a new science. Steven Strogatz, a leading mathematician in the fields of chaos and complexity theory, explains how enormous systems can synchronize themselves, from the electrons in a superconductor to the pacemaker cells in our hearts. He shows that although these phenomena might seem unrelated on the surface, at a deeper level there is a connection, forged by the unifying power of mathematics.
©2003 Steven H. Strogatz (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Sync is a wonderfully lucid and thoroughly entertaining story of the emerging science of synchrony." (Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe, Professor of Physics and Mathematics, Columbia University)
"Inspiring... offers a real sense of what it's like to be at the beginning of Something Big." (New Scientist)
"Beautifully written and breathtaking in scope, SYNC tells both a personal and a scientific story." (Charles S. Peskin, Professor of Mathematics and Neural Science, New York University)
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Self-organization -- it's a profoundly self-evident quality of nature, but one that so far has eluded much deep understanding in science. Strogatz makes it easy to see why: nature, from atoms up to cells up to societies, is made up of many non-linear components working together, and non-linear systems, with their feedback loops, impulses, and fractal components, are fiendishly difficult to get one's head around, nothing like the idealized systems we encounter in Freshman Physics. Yet, their non-linearity is the key to... well, maybe everything?
Sync explores the synchronization phenomena inherent in many complex systems, the way they coordinate their actions with respect to time, building order out of seeming noise. From fireflies to circadian rhythms to swinging pendulums to brain neurons to orbiting bodies to Higgs boson fields, there's an eerie tendency in nature for things to fall in step.
Despite being free of equations, it's a book that delves into some pretty dense territory, and might not be well suited to audiobook form. In most chapters, I found that a moment of daydreaming or distraction would have me rewinding to get back on track with the lecture. Strogatz spends a lot of time explaining abstract models, which held my interest as an engineer (the runners-on-a-track metaphor actually mirrored a traffic simulation I’d developed, which had sync issues of its own), but might appeal less to other readers. There are also some rather esoteric topics in physics, which I didn’t understand very well. I kinda wish he'd put those chapters towards the end, because I almost quit listening after one frustrating section dealing with spiral waves, which luckily turned out to be followed by a much more interesting and accessible overview of Chaos Theory. I also liked the chapters that explore networks and their characteristics (think of the connections between film actors, exemplified by the party game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”).
If you're hoping for some grand unifying theory of synchronization, you won't find it here, just an examination of some different systems in which sync is present and praise for the work of several different researchers. I wouldn’t have minded more resonance between the separate parts (as it were), but I was curious about the topic and the book was worth my time. It’s always cool to learn about a field in which many key developments have happened within my own lifetime. Strogatz convinced me that the qualities that make self-organizing systems difficult to model with traditional mathematics might be the same qualities that are most important to understand. As a software developer, I found it exciting to think about how computers will be used to further exploration of the universe’s emergent interconnectedness, and how discoveries might feed back into how we think about software design. We might even find out something profound.
Love listening to everything in science, astronomy, neuroscience, education and creativity.
I would rate Sync as one of the best mathematics audiobook that can be enjoyed and understood (even in audio format). Steven Strogatz is a pioneering mathematics professor working on chaos theory and non-linear dynamics. He has successfully integrated his understanding of the principles of synchrony and emergence of synchrony in various natural phenomena and came out with a intuitive, entertaining book mixed with historical anecdotes. Must buy book for any science loving audible listeners.
Maybe I'm dense, but I sure thought this book was a bit on the dry and hard to follow side. Good information to be sure, but a lot of the book goes into excrutiating detail about math experiments. If you're fond of reading academic math journals, this book is for you.
He showed enthusiasm for the subject.
Not a read for fun. Educational, but not intriguing.
This is my first review, I haven't ever felt compelled to write one before, but this time was different.
The content is great, or at least I'm sure its great had I been able to get through the first couple chapters. But the reader is boring and unenthusiastic, to say the least. Books like this require a conversational, realistic tone that this reader did not provide. My suggestion, pick up the physical copy of this one, the audiobook is disappointing.
The plodding pace of the narration, where "every syll a ble was care fully pro nounced" at a pace just slower than anyone would normally speak really grated on my nerves. I checked out my playback status and found I was still on chapter one! I don't think I can stand to listen to any more of this recording. The author's analogies were too frequently phrased with hyperbole. Very disappointed.
I would recommend this book to friends interested in broadening their knowledge of curious sciences. This book skirts the pictures, formulas and diagrams which can be frustrating to listeners, but still delivers a deep understanding of the subject.
Sync is a terrific counterpart to James Gleick's Chaos. Strogatz and Gleick Both hint at the profound implication that everything relates to this self organizing property.
I know I'm giving all 5 stars to this review. I'm just a layperson, and this book did not fail to deliver thought provoking, real, material in an understandable way. Maybe a science major would have a lesser opinion, but I'd still feel we would agree it was a good audio book.
Kevin T Collins did a good job of narrating the book, except for one word used in multiple places: capacitors. They are pronounced as they are spelled, not "capacitators". Mr Collins added an extra "TA" in there that was distracting. To an electrical engineer, it was like nails on a chalkboard.
The simplistic intro to the topic enticed me to continue. It follows logic and can be applied to a variety of life situations.
The middle-end was a bit beyond what I was looking for, more technical than necessary for my interest.
For my interest, I would like for the author to continue with a more practical application of the subject. For other readers, this might be just what they're looking for.
Not for me but I did not read through to the end.
Have a nice day!
The subject of this book is synchronicity in nature, and perhaps the author stretches the meaning of the word to fit chaos theory and other sectors of physics. He is contrary to the Jungian thoughts of synchornicity and of scientists who favor Jung.
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