Crashes, Crises, and Calamities: How We Can Use Science to by Len Fisher

By Len Fisher

Why do definite civilizations, societies, and ecosystems cave in? How does the domino impression relate to the credits crunch? while can arithmetic support clarify marriage? and the way in the world do toads are expecting earthquakes? the longer term is doubtful. yet technological know-how might help foretell what lies ahead.Drawing on ecology and biology, math and physics, Crashes, Crises, and Calamities bargains 4 basic instruments that scientists and engineers use to forecast the chance of surprising switch: balance, disaster, complexity, and online game theories. In obtainable prose, Len Fisher demonstrates how we will be able to foresee and deal with occasions that may in a different way capture us by way of surprise.At the leading edge of technological know-how, Fisher is helping us locate how one can act earlier than a full-fledged disaster is upon us. Crashes, Crises, and Calamities is a witty and informative exploration of the chaos, complexity, and styles of our day-by-day lives.

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Extra resources for Crashes, Crises, and Calamities: How We Can Use Science to Read the Early-Warning Signs

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A FRAGILE WORLD You don’t need to be a mathematician to see from Young’s equation (and also from common sense) that the strain, or deformation, is going to be greatest where the stress is greatest. In the case of a wooden seesaw, for example, the point of maximum tensile stress is in the center of the upper surface. 5, bottom). 5. Stresses in cantilever beam protruding from a wall (top). Note that the stress varies along the length as well as from top to bottom. So while the entire upper surface is under stress, the stress along that surface is highest in the middle and lowest at the ends.

Photograph by Len Fisher (right). McGonagall would also have disapproved, because he saw stern solidity as the answer to the problem of wind-induced stresses. When the Tay Bridge was replaced, he expressed his views in a fresh poem, with just one word added to the first line of the earlier one: Beautiful new railway bridge of the Silvery Tay, With thy beautiful side-screens along your railway, Which will be a great protection on a windy day, So as the railway carriages won’t be blown away. . Thy structure to my eye seems strong and grand, And the workmanship most skilfully planned; And I hope the designers, Messrs Barlow and Arrol, will prosper for many a day For erecting thee across the beautiful Tay.

The ability to pick patterns out of a mass of information is essential for recognizing faces, learning language, and remembering the geography of our surroundings. But it is also possible to make mistakes. The question is, what sort of mistake should we make? Is it better to believe falsehoods or reject truths? Our best evolutionary strategy was to accept a few falsehoods so as not to miss an essential truth. A rustle in the grass could have been due to the wind, but it might also have indicated the presence of a menacing carnivore.

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