Pub. Date:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated


by Bart Kosko
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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670034956
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 08/17/2006
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.05(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

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

Noise Preface

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 Spectrum—and 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

Notes Index

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Noise 1.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jefware on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kosko writes in an abbreviated fashion that rushes past concepts in a sentence that could easily take a chapter (or a book) to encompass.
name99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh my god, what crap. A portmanteau book like this is always a risk. The author takes the word "noise" as a unifying theme, and tries to discuss noise as seen by engineers, as seen by lawyers, and as seen by physicists. This could be fascinating, which was why I picked up the book, but it falls horribly flat. The engineering discussions are messy and confused, and the physics discussions incomprehensible. I still have no idea if the concept of stochastic resonance corresponds to anything more than dithering; and for heavens sake, as simple a concept as dithering is rendered impenetrable after Kosko is done with it.