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A Cascade of Sand: Complex Systems in a Complex Time. We live in a world filled with rapid change: governments topple, people rise and fall, and technology has created a connectedness the world has never experienced before.

A Cascade of Sand: Complex Systems in a Complex Time

Joshua Cooper Ramo believes this environment has created an “‘avalanche of ceaseless change.” In his book, The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It he outlines what this new world looks like and gives us prescriptions on how best to deal with the disorder around us. Ramo believes that we are entering a revolutionary age that will render seemingly fortified institutions weak, and weak movements strong. He feels we aren’t well prepared for these radical shifts as those in positions of power tend to have antiquated ideologies in dealing with issues. Generally, they treat anything complex as one dimensional.

Some great thinkers have spoken about these problems in the past. How Complex Systems Fail. A bit of a preface to this post.

How Complex Systems Fail

Please read the definition of Antifragile first. While the article below is interesting, the reader should read with a critical mind. The Computational Foundation of Life. What’s the difference between physics and biology?

The Computational Foundation of Life

Take a golf ball and a cannonball and drop them off the Tower of Pisa. The laws of physics allow you to predict their trajectories pretty much as accurately as you could wish for. Now do the same experiment again, but replace the cannonball with a pigeon. Biological systems don’t defy physical laws, of course — but neither do they seem to be predicted by them. How to Build a Probability Microscope - Issue 44: Luck. If the rumors are true, 20th Century Fox will release a remake of the 1966 science-fiction film Fantastic Voyage in the next year or two.

How to Build a Probability Microscope - Issue 44: Luck

The conceit behind the film is that its protagonists are shrunk down and injected into the human body, through which they travel in a microscopic submarine. At that size, a swirl of blood turns into dangerous turbulence. White blood cells can engulf their ship. A droplet’s surface tension, formerly imperceptible, now forms an impenetrable barrier. Changing scales disrupts our intuitive sense of what is significant, what is powerful, and what is dangerous. How can we understand what is important at unfamiliar scales? Emergence. If we were pressed to give a definition of emergence, we could say that a property is emergent if it is a novel property of a system or an entity that arises when that system or entity has reached a certain level of complexity and that, even though it exists only insofar as the system or entity exists, it is distinct from the properties of the parts of the system from which it emerges.


However, as will become apparent, things are not so simple because “emergence” is a term used in different ways both in science and in philosophy, and how it is to be defined is a substantive question in itself. The term “emergence” comes from the Latin verb emergo which means to arise, to rise up, to come up or to come forth. The term was coined by G. H. The fugue of life: why complexity matters in neuroscience. People like simplicity.

The fugue of life: why complexity matters in neuroscience

Each decade, corporate logos grow progressively minimalistic, pop songs use ever simpler melodies, and visual arts embrace simpler compositions as Monet gives way to Picasso, and Picasso to Rothko. A Unified Theory Of Randomness. Standard geometric objects can be described by simple rules — every straight line, for example, is just y = ax + b — and they stand in neat relation to each other: Connect two points to make a line, connect four line segments to make a square, connect six squares to make a cube.

A Unified Theory Of Randomness

How Sea Otters and Starfish Balance Their Ecosystems. Even in 1963, one had to go pretty far to find places in the United States that were not disturbed by people.

How Sea Otters and Starfish Balance Their Ecosystems

After a good deal of searching, Robert Paine, a newly appointed assistant professor of zoology at the University of Washington in Seattle, found a great prospect at the far northwestern corner of the lower 48 states. On a field trip with students to the Pacific Coast, Paine wound up at Mukkaw Bay, at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula. The curved bay’s sand and gravel beach faced west into the open ocean, and was dotted with large outcrops. Among the rocks, Paine discovered a thriving community.

The tide pools were full of colorful creatures—green anemones, purple sea urchins, pink seaweed, bright red Pacific blood starfish, as well as sponges, limpets, and chitons. The Four Laws of Ecology: What Ecology Really Means. Ecology is the study of relationships and processes linking living things to the physical and chemical environment.

The Four Laws of Ecology: What Ecology Really Means

Exciting, right? In the 1971 book The Closing Circle, Barry Commoner gives us a clear and understandable example of what ecology really means, while being one of the first to sound the alarm on the impending environmental crisis. (Although Rachel Caron’s Silent Spring certainly holds the mantle for implanting ecological thought into the popular consciousness.) Commoner’s life was devoted to helping people see the benefits of ecological thinking: Ecology has not yet explicitly developed the kind of cohesive, simplifying generalizations exemplified by, say, the laws of physics.

Chaos Theory in Ecology Predicts Future Populations. Sometimes ecological data just don’t make sense.

Chaos Theory in Ecology Predicts Future Populations

The sockeye salmon that spawn in British Columbia’s Fraser River offer a prime example. ‘Critical Slowing’ Warns of Looming Disasters. Nestled in the northern Wisconsin woods, Peter Lake once brimmed with golden shiners, fatheads and other minnows, which plucked algae-eating fleas from the murky water. Then, seven years ago, a crew of ecologists began stepping up the lake’s population of predatory largemouth bass. To the 39 bass already present, they added 12, then 15 more a year later, and another 15 a month after that. The bass hunted down the minnows and drove survivors to the rocky shoreline, which gave fleas free rein to multiply and pick the water clean. Meanwhile, bass hatchlings — formerly gobbled up by the minnows — flourished, and in 2010, the bass population exploded to more than 1,000.

The original algae-laced, minnow-dominated ecosystem was gone, and the reign of bass in clear water began. Underground ant city in Brazil that 'rivals the Great Wall of China' with a labyrinth of highways. By Julian Gavaghan Updated: 16:51 GMT, 2 February 2012 A sophisticated underground ant city once populated by millions of insects has been discovered by a team of scientists. The abandoned megalopolis, which features vast subterranean highways, paths and gardens, was found buried beneath the earth in Brazil. It is thought to have housed one of the biggest ant colonies in the world. But no one is sure when the leafcutter species left and what caused their demise. Scroll down to watch the amazing video Underground city: The network of tunnels and dens built by millions of Leaf Cutter ants in Brazil. What Do Ants Know That We Don't? Ever notice how ant colonies so successfully explore and exploit resources in the world … to find food at 4th of July picnics, for example?

You may find it annoying. But as an ecologist who studies ants and collective behavior, I think it’s intriguing — especially the fact that it’s all done without any central control. What’s especially remarkable: the close parallels between ant colonies’ networks and human-engineered ones. Ants Swarm Like Brains Think - Issue 12: Feedback. Deborah Gordon spent the morning of August 27 watching a group of harvester ants foraging for seeds outside the dusty town of Rodeo, N.M. Long before the first rays of sun hit the desert floor, a group of patroller ants was already on the move. Their task was to find out whether the area near the nest was free from flash floods, high winds, and predators. If they didn’t return to the nest, departing foragers would know it wasn’t safe to go search for food. Computer Vision Reveals The Remarkable Secret of Flocking. Watch a flock of starlings for a few minutes and it’s easy to see its remarkable behaviour.

The birds seem to move in synchrony even though they can be separated by the width of the flock itself. Somehow the movement of birds on opposite sides of the flock must be correlated even though they can only reasonably communicate with their nearest neighbours. Just how this happens has been the subject of much fascination. One way to tackle this problem is to simulate flocking behaviour on a computer, compare the simulation with the actual flocking behaviour and thereby attempt to explain it. This has certainly produced some interesting insights but it suffers from a serious lack of detailed measurements of real bird behaviour in large-scale flocks. Fairy Circle Mystery Solved By Computational Modelling.

How Wolves Change Rivers. In the eye of a chicken, a new state of matter comes into view. Fractal Geometry. Complex Systems. Complexity Timeline. Chaos & Complexity Pdf Library > GaianXaos. Complexity Pages, tutorial, booklist, articles etc. Complexity & Chaos - Part 1 (Introduction) 21. Chaos and Reductionism. Complexity Explorer. Iecps       Institute of Studies of Complexity and Systems Thinking. Vladimir Dimitrov IntroductionChaos and Complexity theory studies nonlinear processes: Chaos explores how complexly interwoven patterns of behaviour can emerge out of relatively simply-to-describe nonlinear dynamics, while Complexity tries to understand how relatively simply-to-describe patterns can emerge out of complexly interwoven dynamics.

Think Complexity. Eric Berlow: How complexity leads to simplicity. What is Emergent Thinking? TO UNDERSTAND IS TO PERCEIVE PATTERNS. Why does modularity evolve? The evolutionary origins of modularity. How Things Handle Disorder. On Early Warning Signs. How Complex Networks Explode with Growth. Last week, United Airlines grounded nearly 5,000 flights when its computer system crashed. The culprit: a faulty network router. Later on the same morning, another computer glitch halted trading on the New York Stock Exchange for over three hours.

Using Chaos Theory to Predict and Prevent Catastrophic 'Dragon King' Events - Wired Science. Numbers Warn Of Looming Collapses. Butterfly - The Secret Life of Chaos - BBC 4 Preview. Sensitivity to Initial Conditions (Butterfly Effect) Demonstrated on a Lorenz Attractor. A Simple Algorithm for a Complex Shell Game. One-dimensional, two-state cellular automata produce a list of bits at discrete time steps, whose output, depending on the parameters, may be trivial or very complex. Surprisingly, this simple mechanism can be Turing complete — that is, capable of calculating anything that any computer can calculate. This video shows two artworks that were inspired by these automata.

One example can serve as a model for the patterns on certain sea shells, which appear to be generated by a similar mechanism. A fuller analysis of snail-shell coloring patterns is an open problem. Conway's Game of Life. NetLogo Home Page. NetLogo is a multi-agent programmable modeling environment. The Implicate Order.

Holism. Stephen Wolfram: Computing a theory of all knowledge.