When I think of chaos theory, I think of the difficulty in calculating three bodied systems under gravity.

When I think of chaos theory, I think of the difficulty in calculating three bodied systems under gravity.

Seems like it would be such a simple issue: How do three bodies interact under gravity?

What makes it chaos isn’t a randomness of it though but that’s it’s tricky to get it right.

“Strange attractors” are a part of chaos theory. It’s one of those fancy sounding names but it basically means that patterns emerge that aren’t immediately evident using typical methods like Newton or even Einstein.

Things get weird when you get three or more things interacting at once.

You see it among people. Negotiating with one other person (two total) isn’t so terribly difficult. Negotiating with two other *distinct* people can get really complicated very quickly. Issues emerge in common that don’t show up in the outset and aren’t easily resolved. The push and pull of three is almost always uneven, and there’s no simple case of “winner/loser” or “more/less”.

The more that are involved, the more strange patterns emerge.

Fascinating stuff I think.


I was first introduced a little to Chaos theory in 1990 at Hampshire College. I _wanted so badly_ to take a course in it (just as I did in theoretical physics) but I needed so many prerequisites. I ended up doing child development courses instead. I figured I’d migrate over to the math side but ran out of $$ to finish.

But I’d chat with the professors who had the fractals pasted all over their doors whenever I could and I’d bend their ears with questions.

Chaos theory intuitively made sense to me and explained a lot of the issues I have with groups of people. I see groups as individuals and their interactions and if there’s more than one or two people at once, it gets very complicated. Partitioning and categorizing people and their opinions is easy with stereotyping but that can only get you so far.

I once researched combination weighers to see a practical application of this combinational problem. It’s sort of a “fairness” problem. How can you make thing fair for all so that their “orbits are smooth”?

I looked at patents for some old combnation weighers… and I was amazed and the cleverness and complexity of the task of, say, making a machine that you could dump peanuts into and it would fill 1 oz of peanuts into 7 bags at the same time. It’s complicated to get it right.

So, it’s been a subject of on and off fascination for a long time.


I think it’s why I like online. There’s fewer dimensions of a person to deal with: Written words and all that entails.

So online, I can deal with 25-50 or more people more or less “at once” and keep track of everybody without much effort.

But in person? There’s body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, timing, scheduling, judgement, and so many things happening WHILE words are used that I can get overwhelmed with more than a few people when we’re on equal footing.

In a student role it was easy: focus on the teacher.

In a teaching/mentor/coach/leader role it’s easy because I can focus on everybody at once in a broad sense, and only have to deal with answering questions in a linear, one at a time fashion.



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