The Secret Life of Chaos

60 minutes 9.1/10 based on 50 votes

Chaos theory has a bad name, conjuring up images of unpredictable weather, economic crashes and science gone wrong. But there is a fascinating and hidden side to Chaos, one that scientists are only now beginning to understand.

It turns out that chaos theory answers a question that mankind has asked for millennia – how did we get here?

In this documentary, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to uncover one of the great mysteries of science – how does a universe that starts off as dust end up with intelligent life? How does order emerge from disorder?

It’s a mind bending, counter intuitive and for many people a deeply troubling idea. But Professor Jim Al-Khalili reveals the science behind much of beauty and structure in the natural world and discovers that far from it being magic or an act of God, it is in fact an intrinsic part of the laws of physics. Amazingly, it turns out that the mathematics of chaos can explain how and why the universe creates exquisite order and pattern.

The natural world is full of awe-inspiring examples of the way nature transforms simplicity into complexity. From trees to clouds to humans – after watching this film you’ll never be able to look at the world in the same way again.

BBC.The.Secret.Life.of.Chaos. by costello74

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Discuss This Documentary

  • Simply amazing !
    It makes me dream

    Thanks guys

  • philip

    parts 3-5 dont work.

  • Emily

    Removed by BBC due to copyright.

  • Bordon

    There is a humanoid skull shape at 45:52 in the lower right corner.

    • Mark Twain

      pareidolia…

  • Franco Donadio

    Autechre and Philip Glass music matchs perfectly with the subject, for those interested in this music i recomend you to hear LP 5 from Autechre. Also you can hear some works from Glass: Metamorphosis, Opening Theme, and of course The Truman Show OST

  • Mike Dvorak

    This is maybe the most profound documentary I’ve ever seen. It definitely supports my belief that God is a sit back and let it all be type of being. To me, this proves that religion and science can, indeed coexist. I have nothing but contempt for religion, but am a firm believer in a supreme being, one that created everything, but does not have direct influence over everything that happens in its creation. This supreme being created everything in a way that be defined and understood by the creations. Truly remarkable!!

    • Muhammad Rizwan

      u r right sir.there is only one God who has created everything.HE has created elements and chemical reactivity and allowed them to react according to the rules HE has created before.this material world is only one of the worlds created by ALLAH the Almighty.this vast universe, when we see and find that it is created by only one God.if there were more than one gods, there were thing different from each other and may be there were creatures stronger than us to destroy us and there was no peace.but I don’t agree that God sitting back and letting it.HE has control of every moment of our life.we must know that.HE can change everything at anytime. HE is not bound to time and space.

    • sparrow

      (I’m atheist—so you know the context for my comments.)

      Indeed, if there were a god, Chaos Theory shows how she could have set some initial conditions, then sat back and let things go, and that would be enough to explain what we see in nature. In my opinion, it’s breathtaking that such complicated systems can arise from relatively simple rules.

      However, it is still conceivable that such a being would intervene regularly if he felt like it. In other words, Chaos shows that the universe can get along just fine without regular divine involvement, but it doesn’t say that god might suspend physical law—perform a miracle—at times.

      But indeed Chaos was never needed for Deism. Even if nature was not Chaotic, a god could have created an incredibly complex watch, as the metaphor goes, set it, and let it go—perfectly deterministic.

      Anyhow, I’m curious why you believe in a creator in the first place? Evidence or gut feeling?

      As for the sensible statement, “Well, the universe had to come from somewhere!” that requires Quantum Physics to grapple with. The incredible concept of Zero-Point Energy suggests by analogy that from nothing, even an entire universe can spontaneously come into existence as long as it annihilates sometime in the future, resulting in a net change in energy of zero! In other words, a universe doesn’t have to come from anywhere! I can just pop into existence just like that!

      To be fair, this is a phenomenon that has been experimentally demonstrated with tiny particles, but the analogy holds true. :D

      Science!

  • Karen Baxter

    you are gonna loose interest here, if you keep showing the snoozefest morning star farms ad….stop please – geez every 5 minutes…crazy

  • debs

    why can I only hear the music and not the voices??

    • debs

      just saw post re copyright

  • emcsqkb

    fantastic

  • VideoEyes

    I like how the religious fanatics find god in this, science more explains why there is no god or one needed, you CAN”T have science and god together, it’s like freeze dried water! However you people find god in a piece of toast.

  • Lexicon

    “Unfortunately, I must say to you that all this is made in a b**ls**t manner. ”

    Leaving the science in peace because science is almost correct, BBC’s style of making documentaries is done in a very awful way.
    (The same recepy with the same taste all the time.
    I saw this doc. before(few years ago) and I like it, but now after reading some books, as Feynman’s or Steven Weinberg’s, Lee Smolin’s et centera, I see that there is too much stupidness in all of this “preview” .
    This type of documentary is made for some guys that doesn’t have a clue about physics or science at all and they are also ignorants, they will never know something about it.
    (Still, they like to get busy their brains so there’s a beginning.
    As a fact, I must tell you that there is no chaos, just some missing details.
    When we could start seeing the whole ansamble of all patterns at once
    (and that may not be in our life-times), badly, our brains are too weak for that, at least for the “mainstream” living people, we will see that that newtonian way of mechanism really exist and works, it’s called chaotical because is not understood, but it’s deterministical from A to Z.
    At last, until the “Ultimate” M-String Formula or something better, we don’t have the right to talk.
    (I stopped the documentary when “they” show the ” Atomic Nuke” and he say : ” And no one could really do a think about it. ”
    ” – Oh, really ?! How that nuke have been lunched in the first place ?! ”
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    Sorry for my “language” and thank you for the time lost reading this non-sense.

    • kenrubenstein

      You’ve said absolutely everything…except what is wrong in their work, beyond the observation that your narrow mind dislikes the implications.

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