Chaos Theory (C/N)

Disambiguation Links – Chaos Theory (S/F)

Physics has had great success and deals well with the regular movement of objects. A planet in orbit, balls rolling, pendulums. They are described by using linear equations. But anything that handles turbulance, physics deals with very badly. Such as, water coming out of a faucet, blood pumping throughout your body, and weather. They are described by non linear equations, which are almost impossible to solve. Until about ten years ago, the new theory that describes them, is Chaos Theory.

Chaos Theory first grew out of the 1960s trying to make computer models of weather. Weather weather is a big, advanced system. It is how the atmosphere acts with the land and sun. So it is impossible to predict weather. The reason is, the behavior of the system is dependent on initial conditions.

If I throw two balls with the same weight angle and velocity, they will almost always land in the same spot. But if the weather has the same temperature, humidity, and density, ect. two days in a row the weather will not be the same. A thunderstorm or showers may be produced one day, while the other is a calm sunny day. That’s non linear dynamics. They are sensitive initial conditions, small differences become amplified.

Chaos Theory says two things, first, systems like weather have an underlying order. Second, simple systems produce complex behavior. If you hit a pool ball and it starts bouncing off the sides, you should be able to predict where that ball will end up a couple hours from now. But realistically, you will only be able to predict two seconds into the future. Tiny mishap like chips in the ball or a loss of carpet on the table that the ball rolls on, will make the ball veer off course. Destroying your prediction. It just so happens that simply a ball rolling on a table can have a unpredictable behavior.

To further expand, this second item of Chaos theory dealt with non-linear dynamics. This complexity evolves from the experiment’s sensitivity to initial conditions. Even if two subjects begin the same, they may differ radically due to amplified tiny differences. Malcolm described nonlinear problems as being typically impossible to solve using conventional methods.