The Erratic and Chaotic Worlds of Physics and Economics feat. Mark Buchanan

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By Greg La Blanc. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

When the general public thinks about physics, they’re usually thinking about the origins of the universe, quantum theory; other terms that have bled into pop culture. But true physics isn't elegant in the way it is seen in textbooks. Our guest says the science is much more chaotic than that and Economics has a lot to learn from physics.

Mark Buchanan is a physicist and science writer with Bloomberg, and is the author of the book "Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics."

In this episode, Mark joins Greg as they discuss physics envy, negative & positive feedback, equilibrium vs disequilibrium, the similarities between economics and weather patterns and predicting traffic flows.

Episode Quotes:

Natural instabilities are all around us.

Storms, in the sense of weather, are the result of natural instabilities that the system churns up. The same thing as financial crises, economic crises, debt crises, all those things are natural instabilities that get churned up by the normal workings of the economy. It's just going to create those things. And, it seemed to me that economics would be well placed to put more emphasis than it does today on understanding the instabilities that create all these kinds of things so that we can understand when they're likely to occur, perhaps see how we might be able to head them off, avoid the conditions where they tend to occur. And maybe some of them are things that have to occur. Maybe there's no suppressing them. We have to live with them and try to make them as least damaging as we can.

Valuable experiments gives us systems

Some of the most valuable experiments in physics and mathematics are those things that give us systems that work in such a totally [different] way that our intuition would have never expected anything to work.

On equilibrium mindset

The equilibrium mindset makes you originally think that anything crazy that's happened or out of the norm must have been caused by something unusual, some external factor that came into the system and triggered some big offense.

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218 episodes