High Anxieties: The Mathematics of Chaos
Documentary which looks at how developments in mathematics over the past 40 years have completely changed our understanding of the fundamental nature of the world we live in. The documentary looks at the modern advances in mathematics and how they affect our understanding of physics, economics, environmental issues and human psychology.
The film looks at how developments in 20th Century mathematics have affected our view of the world, and particularly how the financial economy and earth’s environment are now seen as inherently unpredictable.
The film looks at the influence the work of Henri Poincare and Alexander Lyapunov had on later developments in mathematics. It includes interviews with David Ruelle, about chaos theory and turbulence, the economist Paul Ormerod about the unpredictability of economic systems, and James Lovelock the founder of Gaia theory about climate change and tipping points in the environment.
As we approach tipping points in both the economy and the climate, the film examines the mathematics we have been reluctant to face up to and asks if, even now, we would rather bury our heads in the sand rather than face harsh truths.
It'’s about highly abstruse mathematical ideas and its conclusions shimmer between the depressing and the downright terrifying. It contains no celebrities – unless you count scientists like James Lovelock or economists such as Paul Ormerod – and it requires the viewer to concentrate hard for an hour, only to realise that they are a negligible speck of dust in the grinding mill of world economics.