Saturday, September 30, 2017

Physics with Björn: Order in Chaos

One thing I remember from my past in Physics we as graduate students is how sensitive we were to trends. If something new was found we threw everything aside and started to read everything about something new that everyone was digging into. One it was high temperature superconductivity (truly amazing) and another time it was cold fusion (or confusion). Who can have believe that there is trendiness among the nerdiest.

Or maybe were just like kids playing soccer; everybody following the ball.

Anyway, when I started out the subject a la mode was chaos theory, and I thought that this should be our little physics prompt today.

Chaos theory is really a branch of mathematics; it’s basically defined as situations where the end result or the solution is very sensitive from where you start. In reality it means that almost anything can happen in such mathematics. One famous metaphor for this is the butterfly effect.

Butterflies by M.C. Escher

What was found in the early 80s was that there are certain universal laws that you can find in most such complex solutions. Or simply put there is certain order in chaos, (at least for some short time).

There are many physical problems that you cannot solve exactly. Detailed prediction is impossible just because of it’s vast complexity. We all know that weather cannot be predicted in detail beyond a certain time.

Neither can we cannot predict the path a paper-boat will follow in a turbulent stream.

Yet we can follow in detail how a hurricane comes closer, and if we look into a stream the eddies can look quite stable, and we can guess a likely path for the paper boat.

What is common between chaotic system is that the basic physical laws are very easy. The equations are simple and well known, but due to the complexity the system can behave chaotic (unpredictable). Complexity arises in many cases for example that we have many interacting parts (the molecules in the atmosphere for instance).

In such system we can switch from one seemingly stable state to another very quickly. Eddies form and disappears, there is a tromb approaching.

In the heydays  there were even those who tried applying the universal laws of chaos to financial systems (imagine what this can do to stock markets), with the argument that stockprices are set by many individual operators acting on very simple laws (sell/buy), and we certainly have seen rapid switches when bubbles burst.

The reason that chaos theory become popular in the early 80s was the advance of computer science. Scientist could solve complex problems we never could have done before, and looking into the solutions patterns started to appear. We could find beautiful formations, fractal geometries and night in front of the computer could beat a trip on acid.
This is just a few things I could say about chaos theory, and I will leave you with a few concepts that you can use for your (new) poem:

Chaos and order, disasters and turbulence.
Weather reports or eddies in a stream.
Fractal geometry and bubble economy.

Or anything else you might think of… maybe chaos can be used as a metaphor for something else.


brudberg said...

Hope you are ready to put things in order for me. I will be back later with my poem.

Angie said...

Synchronicity. I was just reading about the butterfly effect yesterday. I may be back to throw in a ripple on the pond:)


"We could find beautiful formations, fractal geometries"

That is gorgeous wording (that should really be in a poem, not just a prompt).

Jim said...

I seem to remember (is that possible?) That a part of large number theory is that when things (number) get too large it is no longer to control. I relate this to overpopulation/overcrowded and both habitation and traffic. In Cairo, Egypt, people are living the cemeteries. In the larger Mexican and in others large cities, traffic barely moves. Horn honking plenty but nothing changes anything, for sure the progress is unpredictable to an extent.

Kay L. Davies said...

It is hard for this old person to think anything that sounds as beautiful as "the butterfly effect" should be so mind-boggling, but that's one of the things that comes with age.
Other things that come with age are acceptance and terror, often in equal measure, but usually more acceptance than terror.
Thanks for the physics lesson, Bjorn. I wish I could say I learned a lot from it..
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

brudberg said...

@Angie, please do return with anything about the butterfly effect. @Jim yes the higher the number of independent (?) drivers the more complex the situation. I'm sure you can attribute some of the chaos to overpopulation. @Kay, I think the prompt can be used in any way... the sheer complexity is exactly what make it so hard to predict, and that is what we call nature isn't it?

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Cheers Björn from raising me from my slumber. I do hope my offering fits - not quite sure really...
Anna :o]

brudberg said...

@Anna I'm sure it fits, so many different ways you can go with this prompt

Anonymous said...

Great prompt Bjorn. Have just submitted and now off to read me some chaos or order.

brudberg said...

@Paul great to have you with me... the prompt can take us almost everywhere.

Susie Clevenger said...

Goodness, physics, science, I'm lost, but I found a poem. :)

Bekkie Sanchez said...

What fun this was, Bjorn! Got to it today and I hope you like the result. I'll be around to read in the next few days.

I hope everyone has a great week! Tomorrow I'm going to be featured on Poets United our sister site. It's my second time and a good feeling to be noticed by my peers! Have a nice Sunday and week!

brudberg said...

@Susie You do exactly what you want with the prompt... and chaos can fit a lot of themes.@Bekkie I will try to drop by and read an update from you

Vivian Zems said...

Thank you Björn for a wonderful prompt. I expounded on the rhyme : Row, row, row your boat to depict ordered chaos.

Gillena Cox said...

Nice one Bjorn

much love...

UplayOnline said...

I will be back later with my poem.