2015 Oct

Applications of Physics: The Chaos Theory in Nature

October 14, 2015

Concepts in Physics TuitionThe Chaos Theory is a mathematical theory which applies to many disciplines, especially physics. It is essentially based on the complexity of nature, and deals with the unpredictable – such as the weather or how an organism will behave. Have you ever wondered why we make the choices that we do, and why the consequences of our choices exist? The answer to questions like these is exactly what the Chaos Theory refers to – the unpredictability of life.

The Chaos Theory only emerged near the end of the 20th century, as computers are required to calculate the many possibilities of a natural event (Uittenbogaard, n.d.). Due to the revolution of the Computer Age, better known as the Information Age, scientists began to ponder the reason why weather forecasting is so unpredictable and how a slight miscalculation actually has a massive impact on the predicted results. Eventually, those who proposed the Chaos Theory determined that there are several principles involved in “chaos”.

The Fractal Foundation is a website dedicated to mathematics and science, mentioning a few of the principles that describes chaos in nature. For instance:

– The Butterfly Effect: The nonlinearity of weather processes has a drastic effect on the result of seemingly inconsequential events. If a butterfly, for example, flaps its wings in Africa, it can eventually cause a natural disaster in Australia.

– Feedback: If a system becomes chaotic due to certain circumstances, the feedback or results of the chaotic nature triggers subsequent chaotic events.

– Fractals, or self–similarity: Is a pattern that seems to be never-ending. The patterns repeat within various scales and magnifications, especially in nature. The pattern of the shell from a snail is an example of a fractal.

It is therefore obvious that there are extremely complex systems in nature that we may never fully understand. However, it is entirely possible to study these systems to better comprehend – albeit to but a small extent – their purpose and how they apply to nature. Thus, we are able to observe structures in nature, and by applying principles of physics and mathematics, it is possible to utilize these structures in the bio-mechanical engineering industry. For instance, if someone lost a limb during a car accident, it is possible to engineer a prosthetic limb by using the designs of nature.

The Chaos Theory provides us with sufficient evidence of greater knowledge that awaits us, and it is all seen in nature. With the development of physics, engineering and mathematics – we’ll hopefully be able to understand more about the chaotic systems in nature, and how it will soon play an increasingly important role in society.


To our students, we’ll be discussing some of these concepts (though not tested) in our JC physics tuition classes. Do find out more!

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