HON297: Entropy and Chaos (Order and Disorder in the Universe)
TH, 1:30 to 2:45, 319 Riddick (not 315!)
Satisfies Interdisciplinary Perspectves requirement
From the self-assembly of viruses into beautiful (and deadly!) structures, to the chaos of global climate cycles or the clumpiness of galaxies in the universe, it's clear that the rules of nature can create both order and disorder. What causes systems to tend towards order or chaos, even though we know that entropy is always increasing? What's the difference between random and chaotic behavior? How are catastrophes like earthquakes and traffic jams triggered? In a seminar setting, we will look at such examples from across the sciences and engineering. Along the way, we'll use a variety of approaches: reading and discussion, examining the natural world, conducting laboratory and computer experiments, and writing about our explorations. Sometimes we'll use mathematics, and at other times pictures and words, in our attempt to understand how these phenomena emerge.
Topic 1: Random vs. Chaotic
Topic 2: Fractals
- Topic Calendar [PDF]
- How Long is the Coastline of Britain? [PDF]
- Matlab fractal viewers published by University of Stuttgart
- Download mandelbrot_gui.zip. Unpack into "matlab" directory on K: drive. Run mandelbrot_gui in Matlab.
- Download julia_gui.zip. Unpack into "matlab" directory on K: drive. Run julia_gui in Matlab.
- For both, set Resolution=2000 and Number of iterates=100 in the GUI control panel.
- You can enlarge the figure window and zoom into interesting regions with "+" magnifier tool in the Figure window, then click the "Redraw" button on the GUI control panel.
- As you go deeper, you'll want to increase the number of iterates in order to see more detail.
- "Biography of a Fractal assignment" [PDF] writing assignment
Topic 3: Entropy and Information
Topic 4: Applications to Biology and Chemistry
Topic 5: Applications to Physics, Astronomy, and Earth Science
Topic 6: Engineering and Design around Order and Disorder
Dr. Karen Daniels received her BA from Dartmouth College and her PhD from Cornell University, both in physics, and has been on the faculty at NC State since 2005. She was a 2007 recipient of a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in support of her research on granular materials. In her lab in the Physics Department, she and her students perform experiments on the mechanics of materials, in particular those which are not quite solid or liquid (such as gels or sand). When not doing physics she likes to spend time in the outdoors, which has led her to contemplate the implications of her research in natural systems.