Synopses & Reviews
From the well-known science commentator and bestselling author of Fuzzy Thinking
comes a revelatory look at the phenomenon of noise.
A celebrated maverick in the world of science, Bart Kosko introduced (and continues to popularize in print and television media) the revolutionary concept of fuzzy logic. In his latest book, he provides the first scientific history of noise aimed at the general reader.
Noise is a social nuisance, a cause of deafness and high blood pressure, and an all-around annoyance. But what is noise really? As Kosko simply states, noise is a signal that you don't like. It occurs at every level of the physical universe, from the big bang to blaring car alarms. Today, noise is considered the curse of the information age, but, in fact, not all noise is bad. Debunking this and many other commonly held beliefs about noise, Kosko gives readers a vivid sense of how deeply noise permeates both the world around us and within us. Along the way he covers many compelling topics, from noise's possible role in the ice ages to noise pollution laws, the use of noise to generate synthetic speech, and Hedy Lamarr's contribution to noisy wireless communication. The result is a vastly entertaining and illuminating scientific journey that promises to do for noise what James Gleick did for chaos: make it vital, fascinating, and relevant.
"Noise, USC professor Kosko (Fuzzy Thinking) says, may be properly defined as 'a signal we don't like,' but as his book shows, there's much more to noise than idling buses and loud neighbors. The author makes the claims that the universe itself may be no more than noise, and that life might not have evolved without it. And though white may be the most widely recognized color of noise, Kosko describes others, including pink and black. Particularly informative are his passages on the development and use of noise-canceling technology (used as commonly by racecar drivers to block out engine noise as by physicians to listen to a fetus's heartbeat). Kosko's book will appeal mainly to science buffs; despite the author's accessible prose, swaths of the book assume an acquaintance with physics and electrical engineering. However, passages on topics such as actress Hedy Lamar's patent for a WWII-era 'secret communication system,' hold some attraction for a wider audience." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Today, noise is considered the curse of the information age, but Kosko claims that not all noise is bad. Debunking this and many other commonly held beliefs about noise, the author gives readers a vivid sense of how deeply noise permeates both the world around us and within us.
About the Author
Bart Kosko, a professor of electrical engineering at USC, holds degrees in law, philosophy, economics, mathematics, and engineering, and is the author of Fuzzy Thinking, Heaven in a Chip, Nanotime, and several textbooks. His writings appear in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Scientific American, and many other popular venues.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The War On Noise
1.1. Noise is an Unwanted Signal
1.2. The Noise-Signal Duality: One Person's Signal is Another Person's Noise
1.3. Information Theory Made a Science Out of the War on Noise
1.4. Channel Noise Randomly Flips Bits
1.5. Noise Limits Channel Capacity
1.6. Noise can Sometimes Help
Chapter 2: Noise Is A Nuisance
2.1. Noise is a Private Nuisance if it Substantially and Unreasonably Interferes with Someone's Use and Enjoyment of Land
2.2. Noise is a Public Nuicance if it Substantially Interferes with a Right Common to the Public
2.3. E-Mail Spam Counts as a Cyber-Noise Nuisance
Chapter 3: The Nuisance That Deafens
3.1. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is a Common Health Hazard
3.2. Noise can Damage the Inner Ear's Frequency Detectors
3.3. Noise Increases Stress
3.4. Noise can Harm Simpler Animals
Chapter 4: White Noise Ain't So White
4.1. White Noise is Independent in Time and has a Flat Spectrumand so is Physically Impossible
4.2. There are Infinitely Many Types of White Noise
4.3. Most Noise is Impulsive
4.4. Chaos and Fuzz can Produce White Noise
4.5. Real Noise is Colored Noise Because its Frequency Spectrum is not Flat
4.6. Thermal Noise Fills the Universe
4.7. Even Black Holes Emit Noise and Die
Chapter 5: Fighting Noise With Noise
5.1. The Ideal Low-Pass Filter Resembles Wideband Noise in Digital Sampling
5.2. Noise Helps Shape the Spectrum of Signals
5.3. Noise Cancellers Learn Noise Patterns to Annihilate Them
5.4. Delilah's Secret: Wireless Signals can Hide in Noise
Chapter 6: The Zen of Noise: Stochastic Resonance
6.1. Many Physical and Biological Systems Display a Stochastic Resonance Noise Benefit Because They are Nonlinear Systems
6.2. The "Forbidden Interval" Theorem: Model Neurons Benefit from Noise if the Average Noise Lies Outside the "Forbidden Interval"
6.3. Noise can Benefit Nanosystems and the Molecular Motors of Life