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Book Review Chaotic Evolution and Strange Attractors. By D. Ruelle

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All of the above history, and much more, is explored in
meticulous detail in this book, In fact, the author presents us
with such a mine of information that one is tempted to dip
into it time and again. It is not surprising that it took the
author some ten years to compile all this material. The book
is very well written and the author is to be congratulated on
a job well done. I predict that this work will become a classic
of its kind, and will remain an important source of reference
on the early development of physical chemistry for many
years to come. If I have any criticism of this book, it would
concern the organization of the abundant material it contains. At times I found it difficult to locate specific facts and
information on the lives of the physical chemists it covers.
Their lives and their various contributions to physical chemistry tend to be discussed in several different chapters. I
would have preferred each of the major figures such as
Gilbert N. Lewis and Linus Pauling to have been treated in
easy-to-find chapters. However, I would not wish to harp on
this minor criticism, for the book as a whole more than
compensates us for the time spent reading it. I recommend
that this work be read by all who wish to learn something of
the origins of physical chemistry in the New World.
Dennis H. Rouvray
Department of Chemistry
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia (USA)
Chaotic Evolution and Strange Attractors. By D. Ruelle.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK), 1989.
VIII, 96 pp., paperback E 8.95.-ISBN 0-521-36830-8.
The author of this little book is an internationally recognized expert in the theory of complex dynamic systems, especially of turbulence phenomena. In it he summarizes a series
of lectures that he delivered in 1987 at the Accademia dei
Lincei in Rome. The book is divided into two parts. The first
describes the phenomenon of turbulence and discusses some
of its characteristics, taking low-dimensional chaotic attractors as an example. Here the author is on familiar ground.
Deterministic chaos-a class of irregular states of complex
dynamic systems that are extremely sensitive to changes in
the initial conditions-has become such a popular area of
study during the last five years that every scientist has at least
heard of it. The author deals in depth with the fundamental
question of how it is possible to conclude, from an irregular
time-series of recorded data, that the phenomenon being
observed is the result of a chaotic attractor and not of accidental fluctuations. He also introduces the concept of fractal
dimensions, which is essential for an understanding of
chaotic dynamics.
The second part of the book is concerned with deterministic chaos as viewed from the standpoint of the ergodic theory. Here the author moves to the frontier of present knowledge, as this is one of his specialist topics of research. This
inevitably involves a detailed discussion of measurement theory, the mathematical basis of which is far from simple. In
developing a description of chaotic dynamics the characteristic exponents are of fundamental importance, and these are
directly related to the dimensionality and entropy of the
attractors. In the final section the author deals with another
topic that is currently much discussed in specialist circles, the
phenomenon of “resonances” in dynamic systems, which are
caused by singularities in the complex representation of the
frequency spectrum. They are directly related to the relaxation behavior of the system as a function of time. As the
Veulugsgesellschaft mbH. W-6940 Weinheim,I992
author himself rightly points out in summarizing his conclusions, the relationship between theory and the treatment of
experimental data is covered too briefly in this review. Moreover, this is a field of research that has undergone great
developments in the last decade. Still, what more can one
expect from a little book of only about a hundred pages?
In it the author gives a very concise and well written summary of the present state of knowledge on the theory of
deterministic chaos. It can be recommended to all scientists
with an appropriate background and the necessary mathematical knowledge. However, it is not an introduction to this
field. Chemists and physicists without previous knowledge
who wish to learn about complex dynamic systems should
read other texts. There is no lack of suitable introductions to
the subject.
Peter Schuster
Institut fur Theoretische Chemie
der Universitat Wien (Austria)
The Chemical Synthesis of Peptides. (International Series of
Monographs on Chemistry, Vol. 23.) By J. Jones. Oxford
Science Publications, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1991. IX,
228 pp., hardcover E 35.00.-ISBN 0-19-855643-8
The author of this book has estimated that about 5000
people are now engaged in peptide research. The growing
importance of peptide chemistry is further underlined by the
fact that the number of publications each year in this field
has now increased to well over a thousand, and the upward
trend is continuing. Starting from the fundamental studies of
the structure and synthesis of peptides by the German Nobel
prizewinner Emil Fischer, scientific activity in the area of
peptide synthesis spans nearly a century. Important milestones in this development include the first laboratory synthesis of a peptide hormone by Vincent du Vigneaud in 1953
(see pp. 115-119 of this book), and ten years later Bruce
Merrifield’s experimental realization of the ingenious idea of
carrying out a peptide synthesis on a polymeric support
(pp. 132-156). Many different types of apparatus for synthesizing peptides are now commercially available, and their
operation is almost fully automated. This situation, and the
more recent application of the DNA recombination technique to peptide synthesis, often convey to outsiders the
impression that the problem of synthesizing peptides is completely solved and now belongs to the category of routine
methods. That this is a serious misconception is convincingly
argued by the author of this book.
The nine-page general introduction explains clearly why
synthetic peptides are needed, how structure-activity studies
are used to develop peptides for medical purposes, and the advantages of developing peptide chemistry in conjunction with
the DNA recombination technique. Furthermore, it should
be noted that of the 59 peptide pharmaceutical agents listed in
the “red book” in 1990,29 are produced by chemosynthesis
and only nine by modern genetic engineering methods.
The first part of the book deals with the basic principles
and the chemistry of peptide synthesis, and the newcomer
will undoubtedly regard this as the most important part; it is
pleasing that the mechanistic aspects are adequately covered
here. In a skillful didactic presentation of material that is
expertly chosen from the large fund of information on synthetic methods, the reader is equipped with the essential basic knowledge. The chapter on “Residue-specific Considerations” not only deals with side-chain protection in trifunctional amino acids, but also gives valuable advice on appro-
Angew. Cheni. Znr. Ed, Engl. 31 1I992) No. 6
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