Nature is thought immersed in matter.
—AMOS BRONSON ALCOTT
The ascendancy of the science of chaos, complexity theory, catastrophe theory, and general systems theory in the latter half of this century is traceable to a very old question: Are the laws of nature fundamentally continuous and orderly, with occasional lapses into disorder? Or are these laws fundamentally discontinuous and chaotic, from which nature evokes order on occasion by virtue of patterns that lead to such order? Traditional science points out the ability to predict solar eclipses 50,000 years from now. Chaos science smiles, then asks what the weather will be in Topeka, Kansas, at 9:00 AM local time exactly 10 years hence. Or, for that matter, 10 days hence. In short, is nature inherently orderly or chaotic?