Does God play dice? Yes. But how?
Einstein did not believe that ‘God plays dice.’ He laid the foundations for today’s thinking that the universe is governed by the immutable laws of physics – there is no room for chance.
But these foundations may be built on sand. The new science of chaos is forcing scientists to rethink even the most fundamental ideas about the way in which the universe behaves. Chaos theory has already shown that systems obeying precise laws can nevertheless act in a random manner. Perhaps God does play dice, within a cosmic game of complete law and order.
Does God Play Dice? explains the astonishing new theories of systems that obey simple laws but which are neither constant nor predictable. Ian Stewart reveals a strange universe. A universe in which nothing may be as it seems, where familiar geometrical shapes such as circles and ellipses give way to infinitely complex structures known as ‘ fractals.’ He explains how the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can change the weather and how the gravitational attraction of a creature in a distant galaxy can change the fate of the solar system.
In terms that anyone can understand Does God Play Dice? tells the story of this entirely new science and the implications chaos has for the notions of predictability and the verification of scientific theories.
Chaos is a whole new world of ideas and possibilities, a new kind of mathematics, a fundamental insight into nature itself, and it brings us closer to an understanding of literally everything.
Ian Stewart is Reader in Mathematics at the University of Warwick, where the subjects he has taught include the history of mathematics, mathematics as culture, set and group theory, topology, applied sources of pure mathematics, and catastrophe theory. He has held visiting posts as a fellow and professor at Tübingen, Auckland, Storrs, Carbondale, and Houston universities, and has lectured widely in Britain, Europe and North America. Besides his numerous scholarly publications his writings include Oh! Catastrophe!, The Fractal Dimension and The Groups of Wrath (all first published in French), The Problems of Mathematics, science fiction stories (among them Message from Earth and The Microbiotic Revolution) and articles in Scientific American, Nature, Pour la science, New Scientist, Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian. He is European editor of the Mathematical Intelligencer, and has also worked in radio and television.