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(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)
While the basic laws of a system may be simple, their consequences may be very complex; even, in practise, indeterminate.
- This is demonstrated by the recent theories of Chaos, ie. theories of non-linear systems that demonstrate a sensitivity to slight variations in initial conditions. These theories show that, because the initial conditions cannot be precisely measured, the simple, but non-linear, equations of motion governing the system magnify these errors so that the state of the system beyond a certain time in the future is completely unknown.
- Consequently, we cannot deduce that a system obeys no simple laws merely because it appears complex. The theories of Chaos encourage rather than discourage the belief that the world may yet be fully described by a set of simple laws.
- Hence, we must distinguish between the explanatory & the predictive powers of laws. Classical physics has the laws to explain the weather even if it cannot predict it.
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