Chaos in a Corn Field

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

CSSS 2006 Santa Fe


Alfred Hubler has proposed a thought-provoking hypothesis to explain chaotic behavior in corn fields. This hypothesis is based on principles of physics and dynamical systems. But this study is based on weak biological principles. The predicted behavior in corn fields as proposed by Hubler is not immediate. Biological processes such as photomorphogenesis allow plants to adjust their behavior in response to competitors. Photoreceptors, which have been studied since the late 60’s, are responsible for what is now known as the shade avoidance syndrome. Shaded plants adjust their height in response to shading, which makes the phenotype predicted by Hubler unlikely. However, Hubler’s work raises fundamental questions about the architecture, evolutionary process and function of biological mechanisms that allow plants to control chaotic systems. This is too big of a question to answer in two weeks but certainly motivates further research. We shall focus on biological processes which may show chaotic behavior where the holistic approach taken by Hubler may apply. This case study is about a chaotic behavior appearing in yield determination processes such as barrenness. This is a highly relevant problem to solve in order to increase world food and energy supply.


Carlos Messina, Arturo Chavoya