The Secret Life of Chaos

Chaos theory is a contradiction, a science of predicting the behaviour of inherently unpredictable systems. It is a mathematical toolkit that allows us to extract beautifully ordered structures from a sea of chaos.

At the centre of chaos theory is the facilitating idea that order and chaos are not always opposed. That the chaotic system is the intermediate mix of two.

Chaos is woven into the basic laws of physics and we all have to accept this as a fact of life. The same system, one that’s based on simple rules with feedback, produces chaos and order. The same mathematics is generating chaotic behaviour and patterned behaviour.

The mathematics of pattern formation shows that the same kind of pattern can show up in an enormous range of different physical, chemical, biological systems. Somewhere deep down inside, it’s happening for the same mathematical reason. Implicit in those facts are these beautiful patterns that we see everywhere. All the complexity of the universe, all its infinite richness, emerges from mindless simple rules, repeated over and over again in an inherently unpredictable way.

This project looks at Turing’s morphogenesis and the process of creating patterns, Belusov’s work on spontaneous pattern formation and Lorenz’s discovery of the Butterfly Effect. Also, Mandelbrot’s rule of Self-Similarity, fractal geometry and the art of roughness.