Thesis ID: CBB001561027

Modeling, Building, Writing: A History of Nonlinear Dynamics and Complex Systems (2012)


Williams, Lambert (Author)

Harvard University
Galison, Peter

Publication Date: 2012
Edition Details: Advisor: Galison, Peter
Physical Details: 306 pp.
Language: English

This project addresses the messy emergence of two new sciences, nonlinear dynamics ('chaos') and complex systems science, between the 1960s and the early 2000s. This work aims to unearth what sort of call these new sciences answered, and also what was so different about them. Yet writing a history of these fields is to write a history of the inchoate, and the opening chapter is devoted to some of the historiographical challenges this poses, demonstrating the sea of noise from which some signal has to be extracted. Three main ideas are then put forward to recover some historical traction: chaos and complexity science deserve attention of account of differences in modeling (chapter two), in building (chapter three), and in writing (chapter four). With respect to modeling, it is shown that these emerging areas of work were accompanied by surprising innovations in the deployment of computers and modeling techniques. The attention to building, meanwhile, shows that certain modes of organizing knowledge production, largely inherited from the 19 th century, have partially broken down and been replaced by a category called quasi-discipline. Finally, the investigation of writing focuses on the singular role of the popular science book. Often imagined as a downstream vessel that simply reports on some pre-existing corpus, here it is argued that the popular book helped fabricate certain parts of chaos and complexity science. The closing discussion draws these threads together, and suggests some further fields that could be illuminated using the approach fashioned in this work.


Description Cited in ProQuest Diss. & Thes. (2012). ProQuest Doc. ID 962411497.

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Authors & Contributors
Morgan, Mary S.
Sovacool, Benjamin K.
Hirsh, Richard F.
Taylor, Mark C.
Benci, Vieri
Frigg, Roman
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Journal of Technology Studies
Perspectives on Science
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Journal of Geophysical Research
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
University of Chicago Press
Kluwer Academic
IEEE Press
Oxford University Press
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Models and modeling in science
Systems theory
Social sciences
Husserl, Edmund
Saraceno, Tomás
Stephenson, Neal
Colbert, Stephen, 1964-
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
United States
New Mexico (U.S.)
Santa Fe Institute

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