I Ching - chaos


  • Chaos – When Brilliant Dreams are Born: Before a great vision can become a reality there may be difficulty. Before a person begins a great endeavour, they may encounter chaos. As a new plant break the ground with great difficulty, foreshadowing the huge tree, so must we sometimes push against difficulty in bringing forth our dreams.” – The I Ching.

Catwalk models aren’t the only imperfect models in the world. Or of the world for that matter. It turns out that all models of the world break down eventually. Abstract mathematical models breakdown according to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem. And more practical models breakdown according to a growing discipline of maths and science – chaos theory. One of my favourite books is James Gleick’s “Chaos: The Amazing Science of the Unpredictable”. It is the discipline of “Black Box” phenomena.

Of course, the title itself is a paradox since the whole acid test of science is independently verifiable predicted outcomes which the domain of chaos fails in rather dramatically…

  • “The modern study of chaos began with the creeping realisation in the 1960s that quite simple mathematical equations could model systems every bit as violent as a waterfall. Tiny differences in input could quickly become overwhelming differences in output – a phenomenon given the name ‘sensitive dependence on initial conditions.’ In weather, for example, this translates into what is only half-jokingly known as the Butterfly Effect – the notion that a butterfly stirring the air today in Peking can transform storm systems next month in New York…The choice is always the same. You can make your model more complex and more faithful to reality, or you can make it simpler and easier to handle. Only the most naïve scientist believes that the perfect model is one that perfectly represents reality. Such a model is the one that perfectly represents reality. Such a model would have the same drawbacks as a map as and a detailed as the city it represents.”

Coincidentally, friend and fellow blogger Hugh posted a tribute to chaos this week as well…

Gapingvoid - Chaos