by Michael Crichton, Ballantine Books, 1990, 0-345-37473-8
Rich dinosaur freak gets paleo-DNA and genetically engineers
modern dinosaurs off an island in Costa Rica. He hires the best of
the best to do the work, but a mathematician from U of T predicts
that the experiment will end in disaster (chaos). The entire complex
is computer controlled. The hacker gets away with leaving a trap
door in the system and tries to steal some of the DNA during a storm
by shutting off all security that controls the animals. The animals
get loose and chaos ensues. The end is the destruction of the
island by the Costa Rican National guard.
[p128] Conversation is about a table describing the animals.
"Grant said, `What is the right-hand column?'
`Release version of the animals. The most recent are
version 4.1 or 4.3. We're considering going to version 4.4.'
`Version numbers? You mean like software? New releases?'
`Well, yes,' Arnold said. `It is like software, in a way. As we
discover the glitches in the DNA, Dr. Wu's labs have to make a new
[p170] "Grant said, `You must feel vindicated. About your theory.'
`As a matter of fact, I'm feeling a bit of dread. I suspect we are
at a very dangerous point.'
`Do mathematicians believe in intuition?'
`Absolutely. Very important, intuition. Actually, I was thinking
of fractals,' Malcolm said. `You know about fractals?'
`Grant shook his head. `Not really, no.'
`Fractals are a kind of geometry, associated with a man named
Mandelbrot. Unlike ordinary Euclidean geometry that everybody learns
in school--squares and cubes and spheres--fractal geometry appears to
describe real objects in the natural world. Mountains and clouds are
fractal shapes. So fractals are probably related to reality.
`Well, Mandelbrot found a remarkable thing with his geometric
tools. He found that things looked almost identical at different
`At different scales?' Grant said.
`For example,' Malcolm said, `a big mountain, seen from far away,
has a certain rugged mountain shape. If you get closer, and examine a
small peak of the big mountain, it will have the same mountain shape.
In fact, you can go all the way down the scale to a tiny speck of
rock, seen under a microscope--it will have the same basic fractal
shape as the big mountain.'
`I don't really see why this is worrying you,' Grant said. He
`It's a way of looking at things,' Malcolm said. `Mandelbrot found
a sameness from the smallest to the largest. And this sameness of
scale also occurs for events.'
`Consider cotton prices,' Malcolm said. `There are good records of
cotton prices going back more than a hundred years. When you study
fluctuations in cotton prices, you find that the graph of price
fluctuations in the couse of a day looks basically like the graph for
a week, which looks basically like the graph for a year, or for ten
years. And that's how things are. A day is like a whole life. You
start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to
run an errand, but never get there.... And at the end of your life,
your whole existence has the same haphazard quality, too. Your whole
life has the same shape as a single day.'
`I guess it's one way to look at things,' Grant said.
`No,' Malcolm said. `It's the only way to look at things. At
least, the only way that is true to reality. You see, the fractal
idea of someness carries within it an aspect of recursion, a kind of
doubling back on itself, which means that events are unpredictable.
That they can change suddenly, and without warning.'
`But we have soothed ourselves into imagining sudden change as
something that happens outside the normal order of things. An
accident, like a car crash. Or beyond our control, like a fatal
illness. We do not conceive of sudden, radical, irrational change as
built into the very frabric of existence. Yet it is. And chaos theory
teaches us,' Malcolm said, `that straight linearity, which we have
come to take for granted in everything from physics to fiction,
simply does not exist. Linearity is an artificial way of viewing the
world. Real life isn't a series of interconnected events occurring
one after another like beads strung on a necklace. Life is actually
a series of encounters in which one event may change those that
follow in a wholly unpredictable, even devastating way.' ... `That's
the deap truth about the structure of our universe. But, for some
reason, we insist on behaving as if it were not true.'"
[p175] "The problems with the security system were high on Jurassic
Park's bug list. Nedry wondered if anybody ever imagined that it
wasn't a bug--that Nedry had programmed it that way. He had built in
a classic trap door. Few programmers of large computer systems could
resist the temptation to leave themselves a secret entrance. Partly
it was common sense: if inept users locked up the system--and then
called you for help--you always had a way to get in and repair the
mess. And partly it was a kind of signature: Kilroy was here."
[p200] Hammond speaking, "`Unfortunately, drugs face all kinds of
barriers. FDA testing alone takes five to eight years--if you're
lucky. Even worse, there are forces at work in the marketplace.
Suppose you amke a miracle drug for cancer or heart disease--as
Genentech did. Suppose you now want to charge a thousand dollars or
two thousand dollars a dose. You might imagine that is your
plivilege. After all, you invented the drug, you paid to develop and
test it; you should be able to charge whateven you wish. But do you
really think that the government will let you do that? No, Henry,
they will not. Sick people aren't going to pay a thousand dollars a
dose for needed medication--they won't be grateful, they'll be
outraged. Blue Cross isn't going to pay it. They'll scream highway
robbery. So something will happen. Your patent application will be
denied. Your permits will be delayed. Something will force you to
see reason--and to sell your drug at a lower cost. From a business
standpoint, that makes helping mankind a very risky business.
Personally, I would never help mankind.'
... `Now,' Hammond said, `think how different it is when you're
making entertainment. Nobody needs entertainment. That's not a
matter for government intervention. If I charge five thousand
dollars a day for my park, who is going to stop me? After al, nobody
needs to come here. And, far from being highway robbery, a costly
price tag actually increases the appeal of the park. A visit becomes
a status symbol, and all Americans love that. So do the Japanese,
and of course they have far more money.'"
[p284] "`No. I'll tell you the problem with engineers and
scientists. Scientists have an elaborate line of bullshit about how
they are seeking to know the truth about nature. Which is true, but
that's not what drives them. Nobody is driving by abstractions like
`Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment. So they
are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask
if they should do something. They conveniently define such
considerations as pointless. If they don't do it, someone else will.
Discovery, they believe, is inevitable. So they just try to do it
first. That's the game in science. Even pure scientific discovery
is an aggressiv, penetrative act. It takes big equipment, and it
literally changes the world afterward. Particle accelerators scar
the land, and leave radioactive byproducts. Astronauts leave trash
on the moon. There is always some proof that scientists were there,
making their discoveries. Discovery is always a rape of the natural
`The scientists want it that way. They have to stick their
instruments in. They have to leave their mark. They can't just
watch. They can't just appreciate. They can't just fit into the
natural order. They have to make something unnatural happen. That
is the scientist's job, and now we have whole societies that try to
`But then we'd lose all the advances---'
`What advances?' Malcolm said irritably. `The number of hourse
women devote to housework has not changed since 1930, despite all the
advances. All the vacuum cleaners, whasher-dryers, trash compactors,
garbage disposals, wash-and-wear fabrics... Why does it still take as
long to clean the house as it did in 1930?'
`Because there haven't been any advances,' Malcolm said. `Not
really. Thirty thousand years ago, when men were doing cave
paintings at Lascaux, they worked twenty hours a week to provide
themselves with food and shelter and clothing. The rest of the tim,
they could play, or sleep, or do whatever they wanted. And they
lived in a natural world, with clean air, clean water, beautiful
trees and sunsets. Think about it. Twenty hours a week. Thirty
thousand years ago.'"