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Eric D Schneider and Dorion Sagan

Into the Cool

You might not think of thermodynamics as the most interesting of subjects, but if you read Into the Cool then perhaps you'll change your mind. In it Eric D. Scheider and Dorion Sagan show how non-equilibrium thermodynamics can be applied to a wide variety of situations. Starting from the idea that 'nature abhors a gradient', they show how such thermodynamic gradients lead to systems organising themselves to use the energy available. I'm usually pretty skeptical of one-size-fits-all theories, but the application of this idea to the origin and evolution of life, to trees and forests, to human health, and to cities and the world economy, did seem pretty convincing.

Unfortunately the book is let down by its first few chapters. If these had been an introduction to various ideas in thermodynamics, such as the link between information and thermodynamics, then this would have opened the book up to a wide readership (this is a non-technical work). Instead the authors seem to be trying to distance themselves from such ideas, and do so with a rather strange style of writing. Hence I would recommend that before you read this book you read other popular science works dealing with thermodynamic ideas, so that you can put the ideas of this work into context. If you do so then I think you will find much of interest in this book.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews