Written by:

  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781440627156
  • 272 Pages
  • Viking
  • Adult


The science commentator author of the best-selling Fuzzy Thinking presents a scientific history of noise for general readers, defining noise as an unaesthetic signal that occurs at every level of the universe that has made significant contributions in each period from the ice age to the information age. 20,000 first printing.

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 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