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Content Guidelinesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigContent guidelines

Ideas for new topics are always welcomed, from experts and non-experts alike - if you're not sure if they'll be accepted by other editors, put them in the 'Proposed content' section for approval. The easiest way to create a new page is to use the

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In a departure from the usual Wiki format, Wikenigma assigns 'Importance Ratings' to some pages.

The idea is to separate articles which are considered (by the editors) to cover exceptionally important unknown issues from those which (although also u…

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Q. Why the weird syntax? A. Like most Wikis, the site doesn't use HTML for formatting (security reasons etc). A guide to the special syntax can be found here. Unfortunately it can be quite confusing at first - but there's now a new 'Visual …

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• Oct 2020 : A milestone of 500 unknown articles has been reached.

• Aug 2020 : Currently (beta) testing the new 'WYSIWYG' (What You See Is What You Get) page editor. It greatly simplifies the editing process, avoiding the need to learn th…

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Please note that in common with other publicly editable wikis, this website is not responsible for content posted by the public. Nevertheless, the ongoing editing process should be able to remove unsuitable content in a reasonable time. If you…


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Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of the Unknown Science

Chaos Theory

Chaos theory is the concept that the behaviour of some complex dynamical systems (e.g. global weather patterns) can be extremely sensitive to tiny changes in initial conditions — making long-term predictions about the system impossible.

In 1963, the publication of Edward Lorenz’s groundbreaking paper, 'Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow' in the Journal of Atmospheric Science hailed the beginning of a new field of mathematical study - with applications in meteorology, sociology, physics, environmental science, computer science, engineering, economics, biology, ecology, and philosophy.

And a now-famous talk, also by Edward Lorenz, in 1972 (to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.) was entitled 'Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?' and subsequently gave rise to the phrase The Butterfly Effect

Notes.

1) The outcomes of a chaotic system are not truly random - but they can degenerate into what appears to be randomness.

2) Although the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil could (in theory) set off a tornado in Texas, the chances of it doing so are astronomically small - thus, accurate predictions about which butterfly and when are essentially zero.

3) An (apparently) chaotic system can also 'spontaneously' fall into organised, or synchronised behaviour - so-called Spontaneous Order - examples are multiple connected-pendulum swings, firefly swarm light emissions, and group neuronal firing.

Suggestion : Predictions about chaotic systems fall into the special category of Known Unknowables Importance Rating


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