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From Cosmos to ChaosThe Science of Unpredictability$
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Peter Coles

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198567622

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567622.001.0001

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Cosmos and its Discontents

Cosmos and its Discontents

(p.161) 9 Cosmos and its Discontents
From Cosmos to Chaos

Peter Coles (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The word ‘cosmology’ is derived from the Greek ‘cosmos’ which means the world as an orderly system. To the Greeks, the opposite of cosmos was ‘chaos’, and views the universe as consisting of two competing aspects: the orderly part that was governed by laws and which could be predicted, and the ‘random’ part which was disordered and unpredictable. With the rise of quantum theory and its applications to the theory of subatomic particles and their interactions, the cosmology has gradually ceded some of its territory to chaos. This chapter explores a few issues relating to the way uncertainty and unpredictability have forced their way into theories of the universe. These are the areas where a proper treatment of probability is vital. The cosmological ‘flatness problem’ is also discussed, along with the anthropic principle.

Keywords:   cosmos, universe, chaos, uncertainty, unpredictability, probability, cosmology, anthropic principle, flatness problem

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