Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Secret Life of Chaos

This documentary was on TV last night. I remember first learning about chaos theory when I was about 17 or so.  I can't pretend to really understand all the maths behind it, but I am fascinated by the concept.

I love the idea that nature turns the simple into the complex. I love the idea that behind the chaos lies simplicity. I love the idea that the "chaos" of nature is determined by the relatively simple laws of physics. But chaos theory also accounts for why things can't always be predicted by those laws. Why a system that can be described by mathematical equations, with nothing random in them, can have outcomes that are entirely unpredictable.

Try as we might to keep our lives simple and organised, 'entropy' ensures they move toward a complex state. This is the way of the world, and in some way I find it comforting. Because it's not just me - my house doesn't stay tidy, my best laid plans for homeschooling go astray, I go from calm to anxious and stressed - it's nature.

In the words of Jurassic Park "life finds a way". I like that idea.

I included fractal art in my header because it is beautiful and I like the idea that it represents - from the chaos of our lives, my kids thoughts, finding our way through, we can create beauty that was previously unimagined, completely unpredictable. We can defy gravity.


  1. Lovely, Ingi! I watched the documentary last night too! Funny to think of us, probably not two hours away from each other, minds being blown and inspired at the same time. Beautiful.

    And I love where this show took your thoughts. Especially the part about a clean and tidy house—yes, exactly, it's TOTALLY natural to live in such a complex state! :)

    I actually read a great book about chaos theory a few years ago called "Chaos: Making a New Science," by James Gleick. It made my whole mind spark and come alive. Yeah. I just love this stuff!

  2. I have that book too! Great minds Helena...

  3. Funny, I was trying to explain chaos to D a few days ago. Thanks for the video.

    He saw this program about fractals three or so years ago and has been in love with them ever since:

    The pictures are wonderful! I love seeing your family.

  4. Hi Jane - as I say, great minds!

    The entire doco is on YouTube, but I thought that might be a bit much in a blog. Off to view your link now.

    Glad you are enjoying the pics - trying to take them as we do things. The kids are getting used to Mum taking out the camera!

  5. Bugger - "this video is not available in your region due to rights restrictions". But there is always Google videos and YouTube!

  6. Well, that's not fair! Bummer.


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