Chaos theory- Why Interdisciplinary Education is Righteous for our Future

[Guest Article by Amar Gupta, third year student at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.]

It was mostly an uninterrupted era layered with Newtonian beliefs and preparing functions on the same foundation, since the thirst of understanding the basic laws of nature and “how” this happens, rather than “why” was prevalent. And there are no second thoughts so as to why it wouldn’t have been, science and understanding of life as an whole was progressing, and there was no basic curiosity left; questions were answered.

As fashion comes to vogue, the new age thinking wrapped into the curiosity of basic existence emerged, and why it did, could have been aptly termed as Chaos.
Now here, chaos would in a cliché would convey-Randomness, a situ occurred arbitrarily. Let’s keep a note of this prejudice, as we continue with the history.
Best learning is through-Intuition and the vogue in the intuitive determinism of some of the pioneer geniuses, which recurred around 1800 challenged the basic Newtonian beliefs and punctured its spirits. From that, rose the three cracks in the foundation of determinism:

  • Einstein’s theory of relativity.
  • Quantum Theory
  • Chaos Theory

The outbreak of the very first theory was due to the inconsistency in the realms of Newton and Maxwell, and so was justified the popularity of the conflict, it was the very first time something “versus” Newton had dared to make scientists think beyond the genius’s realms.
It shouldn’t be misunderstood though, that even three punctures in an otherwise flawless wall of belief, could lead to any pessimism, rather, it emerged that one of his less lauded axiom could provide the essence of nature in its all inherited chaos-The Differential Equation.chaos_theory

The gravitational force proposed by Wizardry of Newton had a great ingenious trick hidden that helped some of the unconventional theories or “cracks” to find themselves a scope of some serious study in the 20th century. The mathematical ecologist Robert May voiced similar sentiments in 1976- “Not only in research, but in the everyday world of politics and economics, we would all be better off if more people realized that simple systems do not necessarily possess simple dynamical properties.” The secret was Non-Linearity.

It sounded like an oxymoron- Simple systems with Non-linear properties. It flicked a thought, however impractical our cynics may believe it to be, that fundamentals were not really fundamentals at all, and that we were so far generalizing above the ground of shoot. Roots are the one that are untouched still, for at least we can take the risk of devoting some great minds led by the providence of Sir Robert May.

So much is chaotic-Nature, Economy, Human body, and most above all-The human mind. It paints a surrealistic picture that there is one common fundamental- Chaos, in almost every discipline of study, if there is linearity, it’s a mere fractal subset of the gamut of knowledge.

Hovering around linearity, everything seemed streamlined. As if it was mankind’s underlying nature- To predict the patterns, or the periodicity or the order in every disciplined. We craved for knowing more and more about less and less rather than less and less about more and more. There should not be any denial if one says that the indigenous quality of being cynical and curios was deluded. That has lead concentration, streamlining in order so that we can understand them better, each discipline had its own axioms that separated ecology from mathematics or Trade market predictions from Biochemistry. But those axioms would find their cocoon in the revisited fundamentals.

Speaking of fundamentals, the very first documentation that introduced us to the “Fundamentals” was by Aristotle, and the school of thought was perpetuating from Socrates and his major influence- The great Pythagoras.
The most avant-garde approach to rational thinking in the history of mankind arose from the curiosity of these minds, as they questioned almost everything under the planet, and attempted to offer a single doctrine to answer them all.

Probably that itself made them ‘Master of all trades’; Classical Philosophy, Science, Logic, Rhetoric and Mathematics to name a few. No doubt their doctrine was filled with absurdities and obscurities, but Aristotle’s documentation found its near to perfect implementation by his torrid student- Alexander the great, and we all know that mankind regards his tenure to be an establishment of a near to perfect idealistic society for the very first time.

The journey through this article leaves the 21st century at a stand point where history may repeat itself, stirred by uncertainties, left vulnerable by the crevices of some radical discoveries and evading the curiosity once again. Digging deeper and deeper this time, zooming out to the surface of the Mandelbrot set, where contrast amongst departments of research acts complimentary to the service of knowledge.
Allow me to introduce you to the emerging doctrine, and the last crack in the lasting foundation- The Chaos Theory, which ironically conceives its notion in penetrating through the obscure patterns amongst the natural occurrences like population growth of Grasshoppers or imitating the patterns of ferns found in the nature, but independent of the conventional environment variables like Time etc. It offers a radical offset to the formal school of thoughts, but inherits the very basics laid before us by the great pioneers like the One-dimensional logistic maps and differential equations.
In a nutshell, it simply states- “Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general”. This means now we can predict the chaotic behavior of the nature, like predicting the weather well before time or understanding if the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas?
Chaos theory is applied in many scientific disciplines: mathematics, programming, microbiology, biology, computer science, economics, engineering, finance, philosophy, physics, politics, population dynamics, psychology, and robotics.

The era has embarked, and is functioning pretty remarkable. Neurologists are joining hands with Psychologists and Statisticians to explore the infinite possibilities of human mind, Economists with Mathematicians to analyze and predict the risks of the fluctuating markets, artists with geeks to paint the surrealistic future on the digital screens. Vision is being given to us by ingenious directors and authors. Life’s being calmed and channelized by metaphysics, freedom of beliefs, and its preachers. I believe 21st century is a renaissance in itself for this and nothing else.

Any propositions?

[image credit: wikipedia]