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7 lifechanging books about fractals, chaos, nature, philosophy and even finance for the holidays

Posted by Harry Seldon on December 14, 2009

Mandelbulb
Mandelbulb by Daniel White

As we are still at the beginning of the holiday season, maybe you haven’t bought all your gifts yet. In that case, here are a few lifechanging books you can offer to your loved ones.
By lifechanging, I mean you will never look at the world in the same way after reading one of these books. There is even a good chance you will find the world a lot more simple after your reading because these books give you keys to the behaviour of nature and mankind.

If you don’t like too much specialized books, you will like these ones because each one of them will speak about several topics among geology, economy, biology, social sciences, and climate.

Moreover, you will find some element of answers for several popular questions of our days like:

fractals_nature_model

So, let’s go to the point, here are these absolutely marvellous books. Notice, they are somehow sorted by order of importance.

So, in case it was not clear, now you see why my Twitter name is @Fractalharry ;-)

You can propose other books in the comments.

Enjoy your reading.

PS I have linked to Amazon for your convenience but I don’t touch any commission!

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There will be war, or, how to prevent it

Posted by Harry Seldon on February 27, 2009

For some time, I have wanted to post about “crises are natural preludes to wars”. I am definitely not that qualified to say that, so I am glad these guys (LEAP experts) are. They predicted quite well the crisis, they invented the word “global systemic crisis” back in 2006. What they say is very scary. Even if they do their best not to mention “war”, they speak about “global geopolitical dislocation”, “tragic consequences” and say “the world will look more like Europe in 1913 rather than our world in 2007”. However, as I am an optimistic guy, let me remind you that I have good news about the crisis and that controls and that genius can save us.

In case I am not clear about why controls can save the world, here is the short version: uncontrolled systems, like natural systems are almost always unstable and chaotical. Chaotical systems (1) are ‘worse’ than unstable because they look like they are stable, like they are converging to a limit but actually at about any time they can diverge. So nothing is worse than “no control”. At worst a bad control leaves us in an uncontrolled situation.
Therefore, the world needs more control at all scales from “personnal self-control” to “World control” going through cities, regions, states, or countries control systems. In case you wonder, I am really not speaking of some kind of a Big Brother, fascist, centralized control system. I am more speaking of a democratic, distributed (decentralized) control system. If you are a computer scientist think about the Git Distributed Version Control System, (intro to git here, graphical explanation here). I will explain more in details what I am thinking about in a later post. Remember my point for today. There is no real choice it is either control or war. War, being the expression of the natural divergence of an uncontrolled human system; WWIII would be a ‘game over’ for the world. However, once you choose control, there are plenty of possibilities, stay tuned.

For French readers, I learnt about that article from the LEAP reading this on yahoo news and that article is itself directly taken from Le Monde.

(1) Climate or Volcanoes are good examples of chaotical systems. For a long time they look quiet, and all of a sudden they explode. So yes, they should be controlled. CO2 control is an attempt for climate. Not sure it will work, not sure it is really useful but it is definitely worth trying it. I have a humoristic post about a volcano control system in preparation.

PS If you are interested in controls questions, please join the control theory group on Facebook.
PPS If you wonder what ThinkoSphere is doing in all that, I will speak about it in a later post. But you are definitely right, it is related.

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Facebook's Control Theory group, you know you are a Control theorist when

Posted by Harry Seldon on February 26, 2009

You will want to join the Control Theory group on Facebook if, or you know you are a Control theorist when:

  • For you, Vibration Control is not only a Sex toy.

  • Finding the good frequency is not only the problem of your girlfriend.

  • “Slower, Faster, now it is good” reminds you your work.

  • You see everything as a control system. (which is called being controlphrenic)

  • You have already thought “laws are way too complex, a PID would do the job”.

  • You have already said to your lawyer “Don’t tell me about laws, I am designing them all day”.

  • Every 10 words you say is either feedback, stable, unstable, transient, control or state.

  • Kalman is some god.

  • Navigation is for you another word for Kalman filter.

  • You know the difference between guidance, navigation and controls.

  • For you, airplanes, rockets, cars, finance, politics, trains, teams should be controlled with some good sensors, good actuators and good controls.

  • “Everything is under control” means something to you.

  • Socrates should have said “control yourself” instead of “know yourself”.

  • Every Pilot should be an “Automatic Pilot”.

  • But actually, you do not enter an automatic vehicle ,”you know too much” ;-)

  • ‘Chaos’ does have not the same meaning as for anybody else.

  • Control theory can save the world

Feel free to complete the list in the comments!

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