Order and chaos

Order and chaos seem like they might be opposites. Order is, well, orderly, while chaos is, perhaps, not.

In chaos theory, chaos arises when a minor change in initial conditions leads to a dramatic change in outcome. I used to do this in computer programming – randomly choose a seed number between, say, .01 and .05, put it through a complex equation, and see what comes out. When the output value has a range dramatically beyond the .04 difference in starting variables, you know you have a chaotic system.

Fractals are a visualization of this principal. Chaos at it’s finest.

Chaos may also be interpreted as entropy – the lowest level energy state possible. By definition, entropy is disorder, but more subtly so than colloquial uses of that term might indicate.

Order takes energy. It takes work and thought and effort to create an ordered system – to build a tower of blocks, to clean a room, to maintain a molecule.

Eventually, that order degrades. Even the mightiest towers must fall. The thoughtful ordering of the universe degrades to its lowest energy state – entropy.

But does all of this mean that order and chaos are antonyms? I’m not sure.

While one describes an ordered state and the other a random state, the terms don’t seem mutually exclusive.

Fractal are certainly ordered, chaotic though they may be. The art of Jackson Pollock is chaotic, perhaps random, yet it shows a deep symmetry, a subtle meaning amid that randomness.

The connection between the terms seems more complex than language would typically imply.

Chaos is a natural state, Order is an interpretation.


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