Chapter

Surprise Endings

Michael Munowitz

in Knowing

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195167375
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199787104 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167375.003.0011
Surprise Endings

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All throughout nature, there are systems simple in every way that nevertheless behave chaotically and unpredictably: small systems, systems with few interactions, deterministic systems with the most elementary equations of motion. From dripping water faucets to the population of wolves in a forest, from the frustrating unpredictability of the weather to the rings of Saturn, nonlinear feedback makes the simple complex. Determinism carried too far leads to the butterfly effect and chaos.

Keywords: butterfly effect; chaos; complexity; determinism; equation of motion; nonlinear feedback

Chapter.  4598 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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