From chaos theory, an approach to the dynamics of Covid-19

From chaos theory, an approach to the dynamics of Covid-19

Faced with dissimilar analyzes on the raison d'être of the pandemic derived from COVID 19 and on the future, I proposed myself, a look from the theory ofchaos or dissipative structure theory. in Ecology, in which we address this theory as one of the topics in the curriculum.

Life is fundamentally an uncertainty, in all its expressions, it is neither purely determined, nor purely governed by chance, nor an autonomous system because all the parts, despite relative autonomies, in their dynamics, are interconnected.

Chaos theory emerged at the end of the 1950s from the hand of Meteorologist Ed Lorenz of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, when he was trying to design a model that would allow predicting atmospheric phenomena and he found abrupt changes in the results that could not be explain from linear logic, nor from order y, which revealed the impossibility of achieving infinite precision in measurements and the inability to identify each and every one of the multiple variables that intervene in complex phenomena. This theory was developed in the following decades, being a representative of excellence, the Belgian Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977 for his work on the thermodynamics of systems far from equilibrium and its development was carried out by physicists , biologists, meteorologists, economists, psychoanalysts, who discovered that in any complex system, abrupt changes, unpredictability and discontinuities occur that periodically deny the belief thatNatura non facit saltum and, that transcend the deterministic logic of the Newtonian type.

Chaos theory, essentially, holds that reality is a "mixture" of order, and complex forms of order (chaos) and that the universe works in such a way that new structures are born out of chaos, called "dissipative" structures. From this theory, chaos is revalued as a manifestation of disorder and manifests itself as a more complex form of order [1]. (Víctor Beker, University of Belgrano).

The theory ofchaos proposes for the universe a cycle of order, disorder, order, disorder, etc., in such a way that one leads to the other and so on, perhaps indefinitely. The universe works in such a way that new structures can be born out of chaos and paradoxically, a state of non-equilibrium is the starting point that allows us to go from chaos to the structure of the dynamic system, at any micro or macro biological level.

From the theory ofchaos, it is inferred: The world does not follow the model of the clock, predictable and determined, but has chaotic aspects; the observer is not the one who creates instability or unpredictability with his ignorance, they exist by themselves. Stable systems, like the orbit of the earth around the sun, are the exception. Most systems are unstable, a typical example being the climate. We can foresee an eclipse or the appearance of a comet centuries in advance, but not the weather of the next week. This is so because it depends on a huge set of uncertain circumstances, which determine, for example, that any small variation at one point on the planet will generate a considerable effect on the other end of the earth in the coming days or weeks [2] (Pablo Cazau ). Uncertainty, as a characteristic of all complex systems, and therefore of microbiological systems, such as coronaviruses, also makes it difficult to accurately predict their dynamics.

Do we humans have responsibility for the dynamics of complex macro and microbiological systems?

From the theory ofchaos, The cosmos (which includes the animate, the inanimate, the human species, and the micro and macrobiological systems, without exceptions) is assumed as a complex system that does not strictly follow the model of the clock, predictable and determined, but has chaotic aspects, that is to say, unpredictable behaviors in which the phenomena of the present are not only a consequence of the past and the cause of the future, nor do they obey a linear logic, but depend on a huge set of uncertain circumstances. But also from the theory of chaos, it is proposed that nature as a complex system, (all the beings that make it up and life itself), is made up of a series of interconnected elements. Those interactions generate new properties calledemergingThey are not explained by the mere sum of the parts, but have their own laws and internal logic and are only perceptible from a complex perspective.

The interactions also determine that any small variation in one point of the planet generates a considerable effect in the next few days or weeks at the other end of the earth [3] (Pablo Cazau.), Due to the so-called butterfly effect. The spread of the Covid19 virus, which is part of the nature system but which in turn is a complex system, exemplifies this so-called “butterfly effect”: “a sneeze in China causes a sanitary hurricane on the planet”(Vicente Montes 2020).

Although, we talk about the stability of the systems, understood as the resilience or speed with which the system returns to its original conditions and the resistance that is the capacity of the system to withstand disturbances, said stability is a half-truth because the dynamics of thenatureIt is also the result of a process of self-organization, because as a complex system they evolve chaotically and external influences (disturbances) accentuate that chaos until a culminating point, called the bifurcation point, where the system must choose to return to the balance, or reorganize into a higher structure and balance. Pablo Cazau explains it like this:

We start from a state of equilibrium: this state is broken because the system receives some external influence in the form of energy or information, which leads to a state of imbalance. Experience reveals that this state of imbalance cannot be sustained for long, and that it will soon attempt a rebalancing, which can follow two alternative routes from a bifurcation point: either it returns to the original equilibrium or it tries to move to a higher equilibrium. , more complex and more sophisticated, called dissipative structure. The first possibility is carried out by means of a mechanism of negative feedback, compensating or neutralizing the deviations, and therefore the system returns to its initial state. The second possibility takes place through a positive feedback mechanism, amplifier of the deviations and therefore the system is led to a situation such that it is unstructured and reconfigured into a new structure, different from the previous one and, more complex. While the first possibility suggests a reversible process (since it returns to the same starting point), the second suggests an irreversible process, since it does not imply returning to the starting point but continuing forward through the construction of more and more structures. increasingly complex, all of them unpredictable” [4]

Life, in all its expressions, is neither purely determined, nor purely governed by chance, nor an autonomous system, it is fundamentally an uncertainty. Although, there are some phenomena to which the deterministic scheme can be applied broadly, such as the movement of the earth around the sun, in others there is a mixture of determinism and probability or chance, as in the evolution of a human being, of a society, the earth's climate, themicroorganism cycles, etc. In the case of the dynamics of microorganisms and therefore that of viruses, it is necessary to specify that microorganisms also have the characteristic ofresonance, which leads to these, for some time to acquire greater virulence, which then tends to fade. When a system enters into resonance, its behavior can be described in the form of waves that acquire more and more strength but then vanish.

Faced with two identical situations, any variable, no matter how insignificant it may be, can make the result vary. With the passage of time, that small variable will get bigger every day and can completely reverse the worlds that seemed the same at first.[5]. Gerardo "Tato" Young

In the article "Chaos and dynamic instability in microbiological systems [6]", it is stated that given the complexity of microbiological systems (coronavirus case), the approach to their dynamics should be done from chaotic evaluation systems as an alternative to classical linearity, that is, transcending the classical deterministic systems of the Newtonian type, based on the cause-effect relationship. It is marked:

In deterministic terms, any point that moves in a system does so with respect to another, so that the other point that governs its movement is the attractor of the first and the simplest example is the circumference: the point that describes it suffers the attraction of the center of said circumference and that is its attractor; proof of this is the constant value of the radius. In chaotic systems (which are the biological ones) this does not happen, since the trajectories of the points, despite being deterministic, are never periodic (they never repeat exactly) and follow highly variable behaviors with respect to the attractor, which follows existing.In any system in which dynamic processes are included, such as viruses, for example, there are initial conditions to start from. These initial conditions, in the case of microbiology, are not precisely measurable, which makes us start from a situation of significant insecurity. In microbiology, it is true that small variations in the initial conditions lead to large differences in the final results, that is, to large final uncertainties, as we all check daily [7]. This extreme sensitivity to initial conditions is what we know as dynamic instability, or more simply chaos. Chaos is, therefore, a randomness of dynamic systems that allows us to appreciate a certain mathematical order in processes that we previously thought were completely stochastic or random.” [8].

Moreover, as noted in the articleCycles, chaos and evolution in virus systems, Microorganisms are an unstable dynamic system or chaotic system, whose mutations do not seem to be a deterministic matter, nor of chance, but rather obey a chaotic architecture system, which constitutes a much more robust concept than the fully stochastic one [9 ].

Do we humans have responsibility for the dynamics of complex systems, call themnatural ecosystems or microbiological systems?

Given the interaction between all the beings and elements that make up the cosmos, despite the relative autonomies of the parts that, in turn, behave as complex systems, and despite the fact that humans are one "evolutionary emergency”, As the teacher Augusto Ángel Maya will describe us, the incidence of any external activity on the dynamics of the systems is undeniable, due to the effects of butterfly flapping. Although it is true that in nature there have always been disturbances (fire, eruptions, cyclones, floods, etc.), before and despite human existence, and that disturbances have affected different levels of organization of biological systems ( both species and populations), it is also true that anthropic actions have increased the frequency, extent and intensity of disturbances.

Human disturbances, such as agriculture and grazing, mining, energy, pollution, irradiation, fires, are repeated at very short frequencies, in comparison with natural frequencies and put in evidence, human responsibility, in the processes of degradation and destruction of ecosystems due to their direct and indirect actions. The degradation and destruction of many ecosystems in the world, derived from anthropic actions, has accelerated the environmental crisis and has led to the rapid reduction of the multiple environmental benefits that ecosystems offer, such as water production, CO2 fixation, material cycles , soil productivity, biodiversity, covers that prevent erosion, etc. The rates of destruction of all ecosystems continue to occur hastily, due to productive, extractive, consumerism without limits and concentration, with the aggravating circumstance that many ecosystems will have unfavorable variations for humanity with global climate change [10]. (Orlando Vargas Ríos)

As clearly pointed out, the theory ofchaos, the flapping of the wings of a butterfly can produce a tornado, on the other side of the earth, after multiple feedbacks and / or forks of the system, in this case, theCoronavirus, a microbiological system that also, in its dynamics, like any complex system, is contrary to the approach of order, control and forecast. In its dynamics, it is also unpredictable, due to theirregularities implicit in your organization.

Given that chaos theory explains everything from the behavior of nature and the human body to the path of a drop of water, because both are complex systems, we must accept that the flapping of a butterfly can end up causing a hurricane because all actions and decisions are connected and the possibilities of interrelation are incalculable [11]. From this perspective, we can infer that the affectation of the structure and functioning of natural ecosystems, the affectation of natural habitats, zoophilia, consumption and trade of wild fauna, could affect the dynamics of microbiological systems and, from this point of view, also infer possible human responsibilities, in the frequency of pandemics caused by microbiological systems.

Not everything, however is lost, there ispossible and new hopes. New ways of seeing the world are being born or being reborn, from pluriverses, based on respect for the chaotic complexity of the cosmos that houses us and that summons us, to overcome the anthropocentric vision, that humans stop believing and behaving like the center of the world, but also, that we recognize, our responsibility in the dynamics of the cosmos at all its levels, by reason of theinterconnectivity.

As some pluriverses have said:

Experiencing solidarity with the whole universe has a lot to do with freeing ourselves from the habit of thinking that we are disconnected fragments, in ceasing to emphasize the isolated Self and the awareness that we can only know individually, it has to do With the need to change the perspective of a heroic and individual struggle, and replace it with one of collaboration and co-development, it has to do with the need to stop seeing nature as a set of isolated objects and to experience that we are one more aspect of life. organization of nature. Instead of obsessing over control and prediction, we have to sensitize ourselves to change and the emerging "



[2] Cazau Pablo. ANTHROPOSMODERN. Chaos theory.

[3] Cazau Pablo. The theory ofchaos

[4] Cazau Pablo. The theory ofchaos


[6] Ybarra Carmen a, Gutiérrez Fernando a, Hervás Francisco a, 2000. Chaos and dynamic instability in microbiological systems. Madrid Spain.

[7] Skinner JE, Molnar M, Vybiral T, Mitra M..Application of chaos theory to biology and medicine..Integra Physiol Behav Sci, 27 (1992), pp. 39-53

[8] Tsonis PA, Tsonis AA..Chaos: principles and implications in biology..Comput Appl Biosci, 5 (1989), pp. 27-32

[9] Kirkwood TB, Bangham CR .. Cycles, chaos, and evolution in virus cultures: a model of defective interfering particles .. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 91 (1994), pp. 8685-8689

[10] Vargas Orlando. 2010. ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION: BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION. Acta Biológica Colombiana Volume 16 No. 2

[11] Gaitán, Juan. 2020. General Chaos Theory. Life is fundamentally an uncertainty


Lucia Vasquez Celis - [email protected]

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