I am fascinated by human need to try to make sense of ‘everything’ around from microcosmic to macro-cosmic level. This investigation of our surroundings begins ferociously in the first five years of life as we learn to adapt and survive in the world in which we find ourselves. It is a process of searching that for some will never cease, those who never stop asking ‘where’; ‘when’; ‘why’; ‘what’ ; ‘who’ and ‘how’. There are even those who strive towards the ultimate ‘Theory of Everything’ but not me. I just collect those Theories and try to understand all the exquisite creativity and thought behind their origin.
Michael Crichton’s ‘Jurassic Park’ was my motivation and provided a badly-needed distraction in my life. Unable to see the film with my husband and his mates, one of them bought me the book and where the film could not go deep into Chaos Theory, the book did.
I was intrigued. Chaos Theory (and other later theories I came across) resonated with ideas I had heard before without ever identifying them with Scientific Theory. Indeed my Gran born in the 19th Century who had very little education, echoed these ideas too from her observation of life (I will explain later) so fascinated by this, I wanted to know more.
First I should say that before ‘Chaos’, people subscribed to ‘Determinism’ and the Newton idea that for every action there is a reaction predicted by a set of rules which are absolute. Thus you could make up tables of orbits and Moon phases. It was believed that in all circumstances, it was possible to predict outcomes from data and experiments once the benchmark had been set ergo if you start with the certainty of precise information you will always get results which are determined hence ‘determinism’. Order in the Universe and order on our planet.
If we know everything about the origin of our Universe, the moment it sprang into life , all that has happened since should be determined by Universal Laws which govern everything and therefore are predictable.
Indeed there are people who believe that the Future is all laid-out ready for us to step into on a determined path and one I know who believes this being so, it should therefore be not impossible to go backwards in Time as well as forwards.
‘Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.’ (Einstein)
However Heisenberg realised that it was not always possible to come up with exact data on a sub-atomic level and that as they were therefore uncertain, the outcome also would be uncertain hence his ‘Uncertainty Principle’.
As I understand it, there are circumstances when only the observation of an experiment can determine the exact outcome as you cannot know where/when a particle starts nor its speed and thus only a variety of possible outcomes can be predicted before the actual experiment. The result of the experiment can only be known by observing the result.
In layman’s terms a Surfer will tell you every wave on a given day is totally different from the others though they presumably began together under the same circumstances (though naturally it is impossible to know that exact origin) and only by surfing it can you know how it will behave in relation to you and your board. Here we are paddling on the shores of Chaos Theory.