Mark Harris in Undark:
Who hasn’t gazed at a murmuration of thousands of starlings wheeling rhythmically above their roost at dusk, and not wondered at the majesty and mystery of natural systems? For the Italian theoretical physicist Giorgio Parisi, merely marveling at nature wasn’t enough. In the early 1990s, he embarked on a decades-long project to install high-end commercial cameras on the rooftops of Rome, timed with millisecond-precision to capture and track every bird in the flock in three dimensions.
In this brief, crisply written memoir, “In a Flight of Starlings: The Wonders of Complex Systems,” Parisi takes the reader on a journey through his scientific life in the realm of complex, disordered systems, from fundamental particles to migratory birds. He argues that science’s struggle to understand and master the universe’s complexity, and especially to communicate it to an ever-more skeptical public, holds the key to humanity’s future well-being.