Crashes, Crises, and Calamities: How We Can Use Science to Read the Early-Warning Signs

Crashes, Crises, and Calamities: How We Can Use Science to Read the Early-Warning Signs

by Len Fisher

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Why do certain civilizations, societies, and ecosystems collapse? How does the domino effect relate to the credit crunch? When can mathematics help explain marriage? And how on earth do toads predict earthquakes? The future is uncertain. But science can help foretell what lies ahead.

Drawing on ecology and biology, math and physics, Crashes, Crises, and Calamities offers four fundamental tools that scientists and engineers use to forecast the likelihood of sudden change: stability, catastrophe, complexity, and game theories. In accessible prose, Len Fisher demonstrates how we can foresee and manage events that might otherwise catch us by surprise.

At the cutting edge of science, Fisher helps us find ways to act before a full-fledged catastrophe is upon us. Crashes, Crises, and Calamities is a witty and informative exploration of the chaos, complexity, and patterns of our daily lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465023356
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 03/29/2011
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Len Fisher, Ph.D., is author of The Perfect Swarm; Rock, Paper, Scissors; Weighing the Soul; and the prize-winning How to Dunk a Doughnut. He lives in Wiltshire, England, and Blackheath, Australia.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

A User's Guide to This Book xi

Introduction: How Do Toads Predict Earthquakes? xiii

Part 1 A Potted Pre-History of Prognostication

1 Do Animals Have Crystal Balls? 3

2 The Future Eclipsed 15

3 Galileo's Hell 25

Part 2 How Disasters Happen

4 The Stress of It All 35

5 Runaway Disaster 53

6 The Balance of Nature and the Nature of Balance 71

Part 3 Imminent Catastrophes: Reading the Signs

7 The Chaotic Ecology of Dragons 95

8 Teetering on the Brink of Catastrophe 109

9 Models and Supermodels 123

10 Beware of Mathematicians 135

11 Weak Signals as Major Early-Warning Signs 151

Summary: The Future of Forecasting 169

Notes 171

Index 219

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