Lessons in Life from Chaos theory

Posted: February 2, 2006 in Introspection, Philosophy, Science Pure

An Analytical on influence of Chaos theory on Life

For those of us to whom Chaos theory does not mean much, lemme elucidate a bit. Chaos Theory is one of the most revolutionary concepts in physical sciences which goes to describe the charateristics of Non linear Dynamic systems that under certain conditions exhibit a phenomenon known as chaos, which is characterised by a sensitivity to initial conditions (butterfly effect). As a result of this sensitivity, the behavior of systems that exhibit chaos appears to be random, even though the model of the system is deterministic in the sense that it is well defined and contains no random parameters.

In layman’s words Chaos theory describes the behavious of systems exibiting Chaotic motion. The phrase “chaotic motion” really has nothing with whether or not the motion of a physical system is frenzied or wild in appearance. Chaos refers to the issue of whether or not it is possible to make accurate long-term predictions about the behavior of the system.

What makes it so Path Breaking in nature is the inherent differentiator in the form of the cause-effect relationship which form the foundation of most discrete, partical physics and mathematics. Till now, it was assumed that it is always possible to make accurate long-term predictions of any physical system so long as one knows the starting conditions well enough. So there was no room for any Ambiguity or Entropy or Randomness or Chaos.

The Chaos theory is in a way a faithful successor to Weren Heisenberg‘s Uncertainty Principle. In quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that one cannot assign with full precision values for certain pairs of observable variables, including the position and momentum, of a single particle at the same time even in theory. If we look at it into a little more depth we will see that it echoes a similar philosophy which is that exact determination will always be subjective rather than objective in nature due to the inherent instability or the inbuilt dynamism of nature. Someting hich is revealed by the of the environment or the degree of randomness of the environment. In all such matters regarding the determination of physical state the Gaussian Distribution is religiously followed.

Gaussian Distribution
At the time of its discovery, the phenomenon of chaotic motion was considered a mathematical oddity. In the decades since then, physicists have come to discover that chaotic behavior is much more widespread, and may even be the norm in the universe

Now Lets look at life for once. Every passing day we make plans; schedule our workflow in our 8 hours so to say.
Looking at it from a bird’s eye view we have a certain amount of idea how the next minute, the next hour, the current day, the present month or the current year is going to go in terms of what would be our role and what are the scenarios we are likely to face. Funny thing is, that with time we realise that the harder & more thorough we plan the more it crumbles to pieces in light of events which invariably take place and in doing so shape re-shape our lives; in a way re-defining the rules of the game. Quite often we improvise our plan of action so as to put them in line with our current scenario and make them more apt or applicable.

Management as a science is scientifically unscientific in the way that it teaches us to account for and manage these Chaotic unplanned unaccounted for incidents so as to turn the tide in our favour. It is highly scientific because it counts on the chaos theory and instead of trying to limit its effect, tries to exploit it. It is unscientific because it goes against the basic Causal-Effect marriage pivotal to deterministic sciences and makes provisions on a look-ahead fashion for the anticipated diversions on a pre-emptive basis.

How many engineers we come across who wanted to become a doctor in their life but took a detour on not making it successfully through medical entrance examination. Like wise so many wannabe entrepreneurs who resign to a life of soap-selling after reading and digesting varioous case studies from a top B-School which thoroughly and effectively teaches them to anticipate the millions of probable risks they would run in any operation thereby silently killing in them first the courage to dream and then believe in it.

Funny as it may seem, the fact that equations in life are dynamic in nature makes it a lot more thriving and self evolutionary in nature. For once I believe in the ‘Connecting of the dots‘ principle made much popular by Steve ‘Apple’ Jobs. Reafding it and doing some thinking helps us to better appreciate the complexity in the existential system of the environment and the simplicity in the unpredictable way it operates!
Chaos Theory

  1. Dear Stayaneshi

    I am a Social Systems theorist not a physics major. Does chaos theory only apply in emergent systems that are hierchializing after incorporating materials from outside the boundaries and also within.

    Once these operations begin does chaos theory give plausible support to organizing transformations that help the system achieve a steady state?

    If systems are equivalent to their state vectors once their energy has been changed adequately to a point where these organized materials now no longer have properties as the original system it would be reasonable that disintegration to the original materials to a state of chaos again could exist.

    Is this reasoning consistent with the chaos theory you discuss?

    David Nollmeyer

  2. cheetos says:

    Hi David,
    That’s a question which is not only difficult to answer but also pungently dicey. Let me explain myself.

    The first part of your question is “Does chaos theory only apply in emergent systems”
    Now the answer to that goes as this, as far as understanding goes Chaos theory applies to all systems which are not sedentary in nature and which is probably every system that exists.
    See all systems change, deteriorate or evolve over a period of time. Only factor is the scale of time, an otherwise dormant system is essentially one with a very large time period for any observable/quantifiable change.

    Now theoretically there can be systems which are at their maximum entropy or their maximum stability state. These systems, theoretically at least will be the end result of chaos theory and hence absolved from any further dynamics in that regard.

    The second Question, “does chaos theory give plausible support to organizing transformations that help the system achieve a steady state?” is a bit easier to answer.
    YES, baring a few exceptions they ALWAYS take to a state of higher entropy and hence more stability. The exceptions too fit in perfectly as they are encountered when the system experience some kind of a threshold/cut-off so the system moves to a state of lower stability in order to overcome that so that finally it can come to a much more stable state.

    The third and the last question (Thankfully ! 😉 ) your extrapolation seems valid enough, especially considering the fact that state transformation through CHAOS is an ongoing self propelling & self energizing concept.


  3. Ryan B says:

    Hey Stayaneshi,

    How often do you plan to talk about Chaos Theory here? I have been interested in the subject for a number of years. Unfortunately my university only offers one or two classes in this area. If this and similar topics will be talked about here often I will blog roll you.


  4. Ryan B says:

    Just wondering if my last comment was posted.

  5. cheetos says:

    Beng a general Blog stuff like CHAOS Theory will probably find sparse recurrences.

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