The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature
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Prigogine presents to the general reader his profound break with the classical description of nature, examining the Western approach to time and showing that as we follow the probabilistic processes of the real world, we travel far beyond the dead mechanics of determinism. In expounding his argument, he leads us on a marvelous intellectual adventure beginning with the Greeks, through Newtonian trajectory and deterministic chaos, and onward to the heights of a unified formulation of quantum theory and "free lunch" cosmology. His dramatic findings include that quantum mechanics can be extended to demonstrate time's natural irreversibility, and further, he argues that time actually preceded the Big Bang. Prigogine deconstructs the deterministic world view, but does not champion the idea of an arbitrary universe of pure chance. Instead, he argues, we live in a world of definable probabilities where life and matter evolve continuously in the direction of time, and certainty itself is the illusion. Notions such as "self-organization" that Prigogine introduced in previous work now take their place within a rigorous and consistent scientific world view. As this watershed book shows, the end of certainty is the birth of a whole new formulation of the natural laws of both science and culture.