Is there order in chaos

Chaos research - the most interesting research area there is today. I am convinced that chaos research will bring about a similar revolution in science as quantum mechanics did.

Gerd Binning
Nobel Laureate in Physics

The static and dynamic phenomena of animate and inanimate nature are controlled by myriad processes. From antiquity to the end of the 17th century, most of the observable natural phenomena are assigned to the domain of mystical laws or the domain of chaos. Tangible rules and laws are believed to be impossible and known laws do not seem to apply.

Beginning with Keppler and Newton, a fundamental change and new development occurs. Mathematics combines with the natural sciences and proves to be an amazingly successful and productive language for its laws and rules. The chaos is gradually clearing and it seems only a matter of time until all natural phenomena are legally recorded, until mathematical order can completely displace the mystical chaos. From the big questions of the origin and the properties of the cosmos to the questions of how the smallest building blocks of matter work together, in the 19th and 20th centuries ingenious theories emerge that increasingly solidify the belief in a mathematical hand behind all phenomena. With universal world formulas the myriads of different phenomena can apparently be reduced into a few manageable categories.

The universal validity of this inanimate nature's roadmap for the final demystification of nature and its rapid technical submission seems to be confirmed in the breathtaking discoveries in connection with the genetic code in animate nature as well. The most recent promises of genetic engineering provide drastic evidence of how a scientific worldview presumes to be able to grip God in the wheels. While in the 1980s one heard prophecies according to which weather, climate and wars will soon be mathematically controllable and manipulable in our favor, we hear today that living beings should be feasible according to a wish list. This picture of boundless subjection to nature means nothing other than the complete suppression of chaos and chance from nature. It corresponds to a strictly rational worldview in which mystical ideas about natural phenomena and explanations based on religion no longer have a place. It is made possible by the overarching role of mathematics in all natural sciences.

The chaos theory sets a counterpoint to this comprehensive, exclusive mathematical worldview. The essential discoveries of chaos theory show a different picture of nature, which is to be seen in harmony with the established mathematical achievements: They make it clear to us with mathematical precision and validity that even where strict laws work without any influence of chance, the however, exact knowledge of these laws does not allow us to make practical predictions. Too often a knowledge of the law is hardly more useful in assessing the future than having simply rolled the dice. This means that the increasingly fine-meshed network that maps and codes nature in mathematics has something like black holes in principle and will be kept forever.

Chaos theory sets a further counterpoint against the widespread paradigm of nuclear physics, molecular biology and genetic engineering that the whole can be inferred from an understanding of the parts. Chaos theory proves with mathematical precision that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. This is represented by phenomena of self-organization in animate and inanimate nature, which proceed according to universal laws.

For centuries the paradigm applied in the natural sciences was that the more complex the structure or pattern of the underlying phenomenon, the more complex a rule to be found is to be expected. This assumption has been guided and grown by success in the area of ​​structures and patterns that are constructed or given by humans. Man-made structures require blueprints, the complexity of which usually matches the richness and complexity of the structure. In these construction plans, any form of random influences is systematically excluded. Results of chaos theory, on the other hand, show that highly complex structures and patterns can be the result of very simple, downright primitive rules.

Finally, an astonishing property of natural patterns and structures consists in the fact that their creation process is always subject to a good deal of chance. And yet the same patterns and structures arise again and again with flawless regularity and stability, just so that it is difficult to believe that coincidence was even present. Findings from chaos theory have fundamentally changed the way we see things. There are a number of recent findings that suggest the fundamental and necessary role of chance in the remarkable stability and reproducibility of patterns in nature.