Into the Cool by Eric D. Schneider
Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 4 Critic Reviews



Scientists, theologians, and philosophers have all sought to answer the questions of why we are here and where we are going. Finding this natural basis of life has proved elusive, but in the eloquent and creative Into the Cool, Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan look for answers in a surprising place: the second law of thermodynamics. This second law refers to energy's inevitable tendency to change from being concentrated in one place to becoming spread out over time. In this scientific tour de force, Schneider and Sagan show how the second law is behind evolution, ecology,economics, and even life's origin.

Working from the precept that "nature abhors a gradient," Into the Cool details how complex systems emerge, enlarge, and reproduce in a world tending toward disorder. From hurricanes here to life on other worlds, from human evolution to the systems humans have created, this pervasive pull toward equilibrium governs life at its molecular base and at its peak in the elaborate structures of living complex systems. Schneider and Sagan organize their argument in a highly accessible manner, moving from descriptions of the basic physics behind energy flow to the organization of complex systems to the role of energy in life to the final section, which applies their concept of energy flow to politics, economics, and even human health.

A book that needs to be grappled with by all those who wonder at the organizing principles of existence, Into the Cool will appeal to both humanists and scientists. If Charles Darwin shook the world by showing the common ancestry of all life, so Into the Cool has a similar power to disturb—and delight—by showing the common roots in energy flow of all complex, organized, and naturally functioning systems.

“Whether one is considering the difference between heat and cold or between inflated prices and market values, Schneider and Sagan argue, we can apply insights from thermodynamics and entropy to understand how systems tend toward equilibrium. The result is an impressive work that ranges across disciplinary boundaries and draws from disparate literatures without blinking.”—Publishers Weekly


About Eric D. Schneider

See more books from this Author
Eric D. Schneider served as senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and director of the National Marine Water Quality Laboratory of the Environmental Protection Agency. His work on thermodynamics—a topic he has pursued for more than twenty years—has been widely anthologized and cited. Dorion Sagan is coauthor of Acquiring Genomes and Up from Dragons. Called an "unmissable modern master" of science writing by New Scientist, Sagan has written for the New York Times, Natural History, and Wired, among other publications.
Published June 1, 2005 by University Of Chicago Press. 378 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Into the Cool

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Snow famously remarked that an inability to describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics was a form of ignorance comparable with never having read a work of Shakespeare.

May 02 2005 | Read Full Review of Into the Cool: Energy Flow, T...

Daily Kos

Their investment banking arm was generating hundreds of millions in fees for underwriting bad stocks, while the commercial banking arm was making unsound loans to the companies whose stocks the investment banking arm was underwriting, while at the same time the brokerage arm was giving criminally...

Sep 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Into the Cool: Energy Flow, T...

Daily Kos

--ML King "Beyond Vietnam" by Gooserock on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 05:52:34 PM PST.

Nov 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Into the Cool: Energy Flow, T...

Daily Kos

by don mikulecky on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:40:22 PM PDT.

Aug 13 2014 | Read Full Review of Into the Cool: Energy Flow, T...

Reader Rating for Into the Cool

An aggregated and normalized score based on 27 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review