Perspectives on Chaos Theory

Clouds pass overhead in seemingly random patterns. These patterns may sometimes appear similar, but will never repeat themselves. As random as they may seem, they are not. The patterns are created and governed by complex laws of physics, energy, momentum, chemistry, thermo and fluid-dynamics, etc. If one was able to model every variable involved in cloud formations, they would be able to predict the outcome. The problem is, there are far too many.

This is chaos. It’s the language of nature’s complexity. The outcome of these chaotic systems are heavily dependent on initial conditions; one of these outcomes being life itself. This means the tiniest perturbations can cause different cloud arrangements or even storms – a phenomenon otherwise known as the butterfly effect.

Now let’s take an understanding of chaos and apply it to our daily lives. Humanity, our social structures, and nature itself are all chaotic systems. On an aggregate level, patterns are clearly revealed, and these patterns can be modeled mathematically. But there are too many variables in the system to make any confident predictions. However, knowing the outcome’s dependence on initial conditions, we can look at every seemingly insignificant action as actually being entirely significant.

What if Einstein’s favorite physics teacher never sparked his interest?

What if Turing had been rejected due to his sexual preference and never made the first computer?

What if Newton never watched the apple fall?

What if Marshall Mathers never picked up a pen?

What if Hitler had been a successful artist instead of committing genocide?

People live and die due to fractions of a second every single day.

The next time you feel insignificant, just remember chaos. You never know when one small action will cascade into something more. What seems insignificant to you might mean everything to the system itself.