"For Want of a Nail" – A Proverb of Chaos (via Catagenesis)


Gaining an understanding of “Chaos & Complexity” and how they affect or underpin just about every aspect of modern life is highly recommended. This is a great little “taster”.

YOU are the ultimate complex system! So it is something that is relevant to EVERYONE.Mammalian Lung

The understanding that, such as, Benoit Mandelbrot brought to the subject has been invaluable. If you struggle to get your head around self-similarity, with smaller and smaller recurring shapes or patterns, you may feel more inclined to consider it if you knew that, thanks to fractal scaling, the surface area of human lungs is equivalent to 160 sq. metres or a singles tennis court. They contain circa 300 million alveoli (pockets for storage of air to allow absorption into the blood stream). All contained within a capacity of 6 litres.

Needless to say our lungs are enormously complex on their own but when you consider that they only work as an interdependent part of our body it is EXTREMELY hard to be believe that these just evolved…a conversation for another day I think!!!

If the above and following don’t  whet your appetite to learn more or get you to thinking about our complex relationships with each other, with the environment, with technology, in business or the “unseen” networks that enable development, assembly and delivery of goods to your door then I can recommend the Dilbert widget although I can’t guarantee that you will be able to follow every storyline.

"For Want of a Nail" - A Proverb of Chaos

As a Christmas gift, I received a set of video lectures by The Teaching Company entitled “Chaos.”  The course, presented by a well known educator on the subject, Professor Steven Strogatz, explores the history, science and implications of chaos theory.  I feel confident in saying that chaos theory is still not nearly as appreciated as it probably should be, given how fundamental of a breakthrough in scientific perspective it represents. I am very … Read More

via Catagenesis

4 Responses to "For Want of a Nail" – A Proverb of Chaos (via Catagenesis)

  1. Please, please, please open your eyes and your mind.

    In order to develop, to operate, and to survive, there is interdependence and feedback between connected patterns. This interdependence is described by E.O.Wilson and Bert Holldubler in “The Superorganism”:

    “Life is a self-replicating hierarchy of levels. Biology is the study of the levels that compose the hierarchy. No phenomenon at any level can be wholly characterized without incorporating other phenomena that arise at all levels. Genes prescribe proteins, proteins self-assemble into cells, cells multiply and aggregate to form organs, organs arise as parts of organisms, and organisms gather sequentially into societies, populations and ecosystems. Natural selection that targets a trait at any of these levels ripples in effect across all the others.”

    • Shim Marom says:

      David, the onus is on you to to explain how the above can be translated into practical, down to eary, implications. Without such elaboration the philosophical discussion above is nothing but…interesting.

      Cheers, Shim

      • Shim Marom says:

        my stupid spelling again….should read “down to earth”

  2. Shim,
    I sincerely wish I had the time to participate in philosophical discussion but suspect that the Teaching Co. DVD set may be a better source of info!

    The blog item “Good Decisions. Bad Outcomes” http://wp.me/p16h8c-lp with the link to Eric Berlow’s brief presentation probably illustrates the NEED for an holistic system/ecosystem view. Where the greater the granularity (how many nails,etc…) the more difficult to determine the “objective” course of action (for a Kingdom, which wars to fight).

    Our (Ontonix) ability to provide a quantitative measure from system data at node/hub level and map the topology of the overall system goes beyond what is presented.

    His example of the Afghan strategy is superb and appropriate to the proverb AND it conveys the sheer volume of inter-connected factors. With the conventional view “Einstein squared” would struggIe to arrive at an objective conclusion!!! “EASY” when you learn what the proposed course of action is!

    But bear in mind that, without the ability to SCALE the problem, identify inter-connections, map these – nodes and hubs – account for the wide range of intuitive inputs, achieving anything other than a subjective (probably consensus) decision is nigh on impossible.

    With conventional techniques, greater granularity makes the decision-making process “extremely difficult”.
    With a Complexity or Systems view the greater the granularity the better the quality of the initial decision.

    Decisions can be robust but Outcomes never carry guarantees!

    I would also recommend this excellent article from Mark Buchanan as it deals with fractals and Power Laws in a “more business” context very well: https://www.box.net/shared/rqaft8aco4

    I hope this all helps…any more information and I will need to charge you!

    David

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