The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life

The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life

by Len Fisher

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One of the greatest discoveries of recent times is that the complex patterns we find in life are often produced when all of the individuals in a group follow the same simple rule. This process of “self-organization” reveals itself in the inanimate worlds of crystals and seashells, but as Len Fisher shows, it is also evident in living organisms, from fish to ants to human beings. The coordinated movements of fish in shoals, for example, arise from the simple rule: “Follow the fish in front.” Traffic flow arises from simple rules: “Keep your distance” and “Keep to the right.”

Now, in his new book, Fisher shows how we can manage our complex social lives in an ever more chaotic world. His investigation encompasses topics ranging from “swarm intelligence” to the science of parties and the best ways to start a fad. Finally, Fisher sheds light on the beauty and utility of complexity theory. An entertaining journey into the science of everyday life, The Perfect Swarm will delight anyone who wants to understand the complex situations in which we so often find ourselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465020850
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 11/17/2009
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Len Fisher, PhD, is author of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Weighing the Soul, and How to Dunk a Doughnut, which was named Best Popular Science Book by the American Institute of Physics. He has been featured in Newsweek, the Washington Post, and Scientific American. He lives in Wiltshire, England, and Blackheath, Australia.

Table of Contents

Patterns of the Perfect Swarm: Visions of Complexity in Nature ix

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction 1

1 The Emergence of Swarm Intelligence 9

2 The Locusts and the Bees 23

3 Ant Logic 37

4 A Force in a Crowd 49

5 Group Intelligence: The Majority or the Average? 67

6 Consensus: A Foolish Consistency? 83

7 Crazes, Contagion, and Communication: The Science of Networks 105

8 Decision Rules OK? 133

9 Searching for Patterns: Imagination and Reality 155

10 Simple Rules for Complex Situations 167

Notes 173

Index 247

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