a non-linear space for students of chaos and fractals....

Entries in Complexity (4)


Nonlinear Nabokov

Updated on Monday, April 28, 2008 by Registered CommenterR.A. DiDio


In his Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote most achingly of the need, for those so called, to write...

ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must," then build your life in accordance with this necessity;

Vladimir Nabokov - a pre-eminent author of the 20th century, Russian emigre, butterfly expert, author of Lolita - built his life according to Rilke's mandate.

But he shuffled while he wrote.

Nabokov's writing method typically included composing on index cards. Quirkily, he would shuffle these cards daily, allowing him to see different paths to take by looking at the story unfolding in different ways.

This non-linearity in structure was also matched by a non-linearity in focus: he often wrote the middle of the story last.

At several thousand index cards per book, this produces a lot of different paths.

Click to read more ...


Chaords, Credit Cards, and Complexity

Framework Complexity - the Pater Noster Lighthouse
In the I-don't -know-how-I-missed-this department, I was quite surprised, but not-shocked , to hear that someone had coined a term to try to capture the world's uncanny ability to present both chaos and order. Dee Hock, former CEO of VISA coined the term "chaordic" to describe conditions that are either present and/or needed in organizations and their leadership in order to maximize the potential for success. For more detail, check out a review of Hock's book Birth of the Chaordic Age. Published in 1999, Hock defines both chaords and chaordic. I'll just go with the noun here:

(kay'ord) 1: any autocatalytic, self-regulating, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organism, organization, or system, whether physical, biological or social, the behavior of which harmoniously exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos. 2: an entity whose behavior exhibits patterns and probabilities not governed or explained by the behavior of its parts. 3: the fundamental organizing principle of nature and evolution.

Coming from the CEO of one of the most successful enterprises of all time, I guess he can call "it" - that special stuff that made VISA what it is -  whatever he wants.

Click to read more ...


Systems Chemistry

The B-Z reaction underway...
Recently, R. Frederick Ludlow and Sijbren Otto, both at Cambridge, published a paper in Chemical Society Reviews calling for a new type of chemistry. Titled Systems Chemistry, their approach "deals with the emergent properties of interacting chemical systems or networks. In other words, properties that result from the interaction between the components in a network, rather than any one species acting individually."

Systems Chemistry is a different way of looking at patterns that emerge in space and time because of the complex interplay among/between constituent reactants and reactions. (Not surprisingly, the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction is a canonical example of the complex results of a complex system.)

Complex chem systems are either under thermodynamic (equilibrium) or kinetic control.

The authors point out that chemical systems are good models for certain biological systems, and make a rather bold prediction:

Click to read more ...


Chaos & Complexity in the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Debate

intelligent_design.jpgThe 12/20/2005 ruling by Judge John E. Jones 3d in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District case may be a landmark one. In his far-reaching decision, Jones rules that:

The overwhelming evidence at the trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.
More to the point about whether ID is really science:
... we find that, while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community

(Click here for the complete judicial ruling)

While Jones' ruling is a wonderful relief (which may only be temporary) from the problem of religion driving what can be taught, regardless of facts, I have been disappointed by the lack of explanations in the mainstream media about the contributions of chaos and complexity theory to our current understanding of evolution.

As Judge Jones clearly understood, the ID fight against evolution was based on a "contrived dualism" - i.e. one either believes in evolution, or believes that a Supreme Being

Click to read more ...