Listen to a gathering of scientists in a hallway or a coffee house, and you are certain to hear someone mention phase space. Walk down the science aisle of the local bookstore, and you will surely catch a glimpse of a portrait of a strange attractor, the powerful visual icon of phase space. Though it was used originally to describe specific types of dynamical systems, today “phase space” has become synonymous with the idea of a large parameter set: Whether they are stock prices in economics, the dust motes in Saturn’s rings, or high-energy particles in an accelerator, the degrees of freedom are loosely called the phase space of the respective systems. The concept and its name are embedded in our scientific fluency and cultural literacy. In his popular book Chaos on the history and science of chaos theory, James Gleick calls phase space “one of the most powerful inventions...
The tangled tale of phase space
David D. Nolte; The tangled tale of phase space. Physics Today 1 April 2010; 63 (4): 33–38. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3397041
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