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Reacting to Chaos

Anyone who has ever been misled by a mistaken weather forecast knows that the world is full of chaos. Weather systems are influenced by the complex interactions of particles too numerous to count, intricate topographical features of the Earth, and even astronomical phenomena millions of miles away. Even after decades of study, number crunching by powerful supercomputers, and considerable financial incentives, the chaos of nature gives us great difficulty in predicting something apparently simple such as whether and how much it will rain tomorrow.

What is Best?

In a famous scene from the movie Conan the Barbarian, Conan is sitting with some warlords. They hear news of a victory in battle and abruptly begin a mildly philosophical conversation. One of the men says that the victory is good, but he asks the group, what is best? Several of the men offer answers. “The open steppe,” says one, and another chimes in with “a fleet horse.” Falcons and the feeling of wind are also offered as answers.

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