Chapter ID: CBB086255881

Chaotic Fictions: Nonlinear Effects in Victorian Science and Literature (2017)


The third and final part, “Strange Energies: Reconceptualizing the Physical Universe,” moves the volume’s focus from an observational study of the natural world to the abstract field of theoretical physics and unseen phenomena. Long before the technological developments of electron microscopes and particle accelerators, the Victorians were tackling the problem of how to detect and demonstrate the structure of unseen forces. Barri Gold identifies one such method as “nonlinear reasoning,” a way of thinking about apparently random natural systems. In her reading of “chaotic fictions” by such writers as Alfred Tennyson, Herbert Spencer, James Prescott Joule, and Charles Dickens, she identifies structures that uncannily anticipate key ideas in twentieth-century chaos theory, such as fractals, butterfly effects, and sensitive dependence on initial conditions. (From Introduction, page 11)

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Book Lara Pauline Karpenko; Shalyn Rae Claggett (2016) Strange Science: Investigating the Limits of Knowledge in the Victorian Age. unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Gentry, Larry
Melton, Tammy
Bayley, Mel
Winyard, Ben
Furneaux, Holly
Geric, Michelle
Victorian Literature and Culture
Victorian Studies
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
Virginia, University of
Anthem Press
Pickering & Chatto
Oxford University Press
Harvard University
University of California, Santa Cruz
Science and literature
Poetry and poetics
Public understanding of science
Popular culture
Tennyson, Alfred, Lord
Dickens, Charles
Darwin, Charles Robert
Eliot, George
Lyell, Charles
Ruskin, John
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
Great Britain
Royal Society of London

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