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Applying Chaos Theory to history

  1. Jun 5, 2013 #1
    Let's say you wanted to determine what day in a certain amount of time had been the most influential in our lives today. I theorized that whatever the time period, the first day in that time period would automatically be the most influential day. I though this because as you go farther back in time, the amount of different possible "histories" would be greater and greater, and as minuscule events happened further and further back in time, they would "eliminate" more and more possible histories.

    To me, this seams similar to the "butterfly effect" in chaos theory. Is it? Am I applying this in the wrong place?
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  3. Jun 5, 2013 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Is there a physics question in there?
  4. Jun 5, 2013 #3
    Well, that depends on your definition of "influential". It sounds like you are making the argument that the universe evolves in some kind of many-worlds branching tree, where the universes branch off at every point, so if you pick an earlier branch point, it is more "influential" because the choice of branch moves you further away from the current universe. And then the distance from the current universe grows exponentially with time in a chaotic system.

    Well, not every thing is in a state of saturated chaos. Some past decisions don't really matter that much because they sit in regions of converging flow. In a dissipative system, the details of the initial motion don't really matter too much since it's all lost to heat. (The information never really disappears, but _we_ don't necessarily care about it.) What influences me as a person isn't a bunch of random heat information, but the information that makes a difference that I can notice.
  5. Jun 6, 2013 #4
    i think the question here is a little confusing as to I guess Vanadium even didn't understand it , well it can be though of in two ways , either the OP means the history of the human past or the world as we would say or the history of the universe and everything in space time including space time itself.
    Now if we are talking about the human history then first of all that is not physics rather politics , and history and yes then looking back further it could have been many ways different if many leaders and persons would have made different decisions in different times , if we are looking at the physics history or the "non living" history then well I don't know i guess it is a tough question.

    If you ask my personal opinion I doubt that given the physics laws and constants that arose out of the big bang or whatever was the start , this universe could have been any much different than the one we see.
    When you grow an orange you don't expect to get an apple or vice versa do you? ...

    By the way I'm talking in general not that some mountains on earth could have been higher or lower or some floods would have been bigger or smaller , in general the way planets form , the way stars shine , the way black holes form and the way all of this shapes our universe given the current known laws I doubt we could have got that different with these current rules.
  6. Jun 6, 2013 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    I suggest that we do not spend a lot of time guessing what the OP had in mind and then answering that guessed question, but to let the OP clarify first.
  7. Jun 6, 2013 #6
    Sorry for being confusing. I meant human history, and decisions where the influence of the movement of molecules in say, a leader's brain, to get him/her to make a decision that he/she wouldn't have otherwise.

    Thanks for the answers. It's been something I've thought about a lot, and don't know anyone really educated in physics.
  8. Jun 6, 2013 #7


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    Unfortunately, as vanadium has questioned, there is very little established physics in this topic. You need to first established the physiology of the brain and human thinking before trying to correlate that with "chaos".

    Topic closed.

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