Segments in this Video

Anxieties About the Future (03:38)


People suffer from anxiety arising from fear and uncertainty about the future. Today, people talk about tipping points, buffer zones, and turbulence in the world.

Predictability of Mechanistic World (03:19)

Early last century, mathematical discoveries led people to believe that the world was discoverable and predictable. That the mechanistic world could be explained made people secure and content.

Predictability vs. Chaos (04:34)

Newtonian mathematics of motion describe the orbits of the solar system. His theories of motion are the bedrock of Newtonian science. Henri Poincaré's originates the mathematics of chaos.

WWI: Humankind vs. Chaos (03:13)

In 1914, a disturbance in Sarajevo put the world on a different course. When WWI begins, people believe the world is under the control of scientific predictability. In the end 10 million people died.

Tipping Point Between Order and Chaos (03:48)

Aleksandr Lyapunov studies the transition from stability to instability in fluids. He discovers that gases start out orderly and then become turbulent. The transition point is called the tipping point.

Social Stability and Commerce (03:24)

WWI shakes the old faith in predictability. What could renew the faith? Henry Ford's assembly line becomes the symbol and means to engineer a world of stability, predictability, and prosperity.

Historical Tipping Points: Climate Change and Market Crash (03:06)

Without warning, the world reaches two tipping points around 1929: the climate and the economy both lurched without warning and without obvious cause.

The Promise of the Computer (02:57)

The invention of the computer at the end of WWII seemed to promise the control that the world had never had. The computer becomes the icon of power, prediction, and control.

Paradox of the Nuclear Age (02:43)

The nuclear age brings fears and also the a feeling of tremendous power and possibility. Policy makers believe they can predict and control the economy with computers.

Edward Lorenz: The Butterfly Effect (04:29)

In 1962, Edward Lorenz makes a discovery that is at odds with the prevailing optimism about predictability and control. He discovers that tiny differences in input can dramatically change results.

Chaos: Concept of Turbulence (03:21)

A scientist discovers that turbulence in not the result of complexity, but is caused by the mathematics of sensitivity to initial conditions. The Butterfly Effect and turbulence are everywhere.

Chaos and Interlinking Systems (03:05)

The turbulence of the 1970s convinced economists as well as environmentalists that their faith in large scale prediction was wrong. The more systems are interlinked, the more likely they will become turbulent.

Chaos Theory and Global market (03:03)

Economists learn that the global market is not something that can be controlled; they begin to perceive it as a natural system. This leads to the free market ideology.

Exponential Growth (04:24)

If something grows exponentially, it must break down at some time because all processes end. Exponential growth is linear; non-linear processes will interfere with linear growth.

Unpredictability of Change (03:33)

Today, the rate of change is increasing, and the ability to predict is decreasing. Many people feel powerless to change their situations. Change will always be unpredictable and chaotic.

Climatic Tipping Point (05:19)

James Lovelock, father of the environmental movement, explains why current climate models are inaccurate because they rely on predictability and faulty logic.

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

High Anxieties: The Mathematics of Chaos

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



For centuries, Western society drew sustenance from Newtonian physics, classical economics, and other orderly systems of thought. But today’s intellectual climate offers no such comforts, focusing instead on concepts like tipping points and global volatility. What created such a stark transformation? This program explores the history of chaos theory, shedding light on mathematical, philosophical, and real-world dynamics which have upended long-held notions of cosmic equilibrium. Delving into scientific and political history, the film invokes the research of Henri Poincaré, Aleksandr Lyapunov, and Edward Lorenz while studying the clash between chaos and order in warfare, manufacturing, financial depressions, and digital technology. Distributed under license from BBC Worldwide. (59 minutes)

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL40397

ISBN: 978-1-60825-845-1

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

"Effectively combines archival material, graphics, and interviews with experts to trace the origin and development of chaos theory.... Explaining highly abstruse topics in accessible terms, High Anxieties is recommended." —Video Librarian

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.