Oh good. Prigogine’s chaos theory _is_ what I initially knew; I’d gotten nervous upon reading a couple of nay-sayers but they were talking of a different scope;
“Prigogine and Stengers say the region in which such interplay between frequencies is occurring is called “chaotic.”
The flow in the transition region is not chaotic in the sense of being random, but the flow appears chaotic (in the sense of appearing random, or disorderly), according to Prigogine and Stengers. They say that the chaotic appearance stems from cascading bifurcations that occur over many different scales (168). As the number of bifurcations increases, due to the replication of bifurcations (on both small scales and large scales), the multiplicity of competing frequencies between the scale levels of the system causes the system to evolve in ways that cannot be predicted. Because competing scales introduce unpredictability, in the chaotic region, you cannot predict the flow pattern of the water.
Far-from-equilibrium conditions (such as water in transition from laminar to turbulent flow) supply an environment in which spontaneous self-organization can occur. That is, farfrom-equilibrium conditions support large scale change within a system. According to Prigogine and Stengers, systems driven from near-equilibrium into far-from-equilibrium states, such as water evolving from laminar to turbulent flow, cause the molecular behavior of matter to change its qualitative properties (142). Prigogine and Stengers call the new forms of matter that result from systems driven from near equilibrium into far-from-equilibrium states “dissipative structures.” They say the term “dissipative structures” is meant to “emphasize the close association . . . between structure and order on one side, and dissipation or waste on the other” (143).
In other words, the name “dissipative structures” is meant to emphasize creation’s (order’s) necessary alliance with destruction (disorder). Or, to put it in terms specific to Prigogine and Stenger’s argument, the term “dissipative structures” illustrates the alliance of the second law of thermodynamics (the law of entropy or disorder), with the theory of evolution (increasing order).”