In many mythical cosmogonies the world is born out of chaos, out of primeval chaos all forms arise. In the Newtonian picture of the world, on the other hand, there was little scope for chaos. The world looked like a perfectly ordered clockwork, with simple elementary processes strictly determining everything on all scales, small and large. It is only recently that old father (or mother) chaos has had a comeback. We now realize that wildly unpredictable behavior and wonderfully intricate patterns can arise from very simple mathematical laws; that order and structure can be spontaneously generated out of disorder; and that life itself flourishes precisely on the thin divide between order and chaos. Reviewing modern chaos theory is taking a journey into nature’s beauty and subtlety.
A beautiful illustrated guide to chaos theory is F. David Peat and John Briggs, Turbulent Mirror, Harper & Row, 1989. ISBN 0-06-016061-6