Table of contents
About this book
From time to time, perhaps a few times each century, a revolution occurs that questions some of our basic beliefs and sweeps across otherwise well guarded disciplinary boundaries. These are the periods when science is fun, when new paradigms have to be formulated, and when young scientists can do serious work without first having to acquire all the knowledge of their teachers. The emergence of nonlinear science appears to be one such revolution. In a surprising manner, this new science has disclosed a number of misconceptions in our traditional understanding of determinism. In particular, it has been shown that the notion of predictability, according to which the trajectory of a system can be precisely determined if one knows the equations of motion and the initial conditions, is related to textbook examples of simple; integrable systems. This predictability does not extend to nonlinear, conservative systems in general. Dissipative systems can also show unpredictability, provided that the motion is sustained by externally supplied energy and/or resources. These discoveries, and the associated discovery that even relatively simple nonlinear systems can show extremely complex behavior, have brought about an unprecedented feeling of common interest among scientists from many different disciplines. During the last decade or two we have come to understand that there are universal routes to chaos, we have learned about stretching and folding, and we have discovered the beautiful fractal geometry underlying chaotic attractors.
artificial life behavior cell cell membrane evolution living systems morphogenesis