Catastrophe theory is an uncommon name for a branch of mathematics that explores how the stability of a system can change when the strength of one or more interactions is altered. (Many mathematicians would choose to just say ‘bifurcation theory’ instead.) We’re used to thinking of stability as describing a situation where nothing changes, but stability can be extended to include periodic behavior: inhalation and exhalation, e.g., or the ebb and flow of the tides. Read more and you’ll learn that, even without accounting for randomness, there are some systems that can be classified as stable even if we can’t predict where they’re going next*, as long as nothing gets infinitely large.
This is a very hand-wavy description of the idea of deterministic chaos. The “butterfly effect” is another metaphor often used to illustrate one feature of deterministic chaos, that changing where a system starts off can drastically alter how it behaves at a later point in time. But here we’re concerned with the implication that something can be chaotic, but stably so, and that this chaos can be measured and quantified under certain conditions.
Changing one small interaction can produce dramatic or irreversible effects, or stop the system from delving entirely into chaos, or make it possible for chaos to form, or remove all stability whatsoever. It takes training and experience to recognize the warning signs when a system is headed for one of these catastrophic events, and even more of both to know how to fix it.
Our lives involve trillions of constantly changing cooperating factors. Here’s how many are required for chaos to arise: three. Three! (This is a different statement than “any three-dimensional system is inherently chaotic,” btw.) We do things every day that ripple out to the world around us, and there are some situations where, if the warning signs are ignored, or if we take the wrong approach to fixing them, the effects are dire.
The following story has jack shit to do with these concepts. It’s just some Sims.
I want to read all the posts at once! Give me them! (Warning: HUGE wall of text)
Summary of pre-WWaTS Catastrophe Theory (Spoilers. Provided for those who are ok with missing most of the jokes, or just trying to keep track of all the characters)
Pre-WWaTS Catastrophe Theory
Dolly hashed (most of) these out before intending to make the story public, as the screenshot quality and stylistic changes will demonstrate.
Before the Storm
In Which Self-Discovery Becomes Self-Sabotage
Hitting the Juice (love you, Claudia)
The Liu Family Makes a Tough Call
Everyone Grows Up Except Mike
Aileen’s Life is One Big MF-ing Never-Ending Party
Seven Days at the Von Haunt Estate (the really long ghost one)
Vignettes from San Myshuno
New Beginnings, or at least Sleeping with New People
The Shallot-Liu Family Exists Now!
The Only Title I Like
The Creation of a Legend
Everyone Gets Older Again, Which is a Vacuously True Statement Due to the Linear Passage of Time
Charlie in Charge
Aileen and Shu Rack Up the Partner Count Until Everyone is Uncomfortable, Pt. I
They’re Still Going At It, Pt. II
You’ve activated my trap card
La Madre Sin Rostro
Heart, Head, Hands, Hector
Shallot-Liu vs. Shu
I Call Shotgun! Pt. I
I Call Shotgun! Pt. II
To Being an ‘Us’ For Once
The J.E.s Replace Charlie with a Dog
Guide Me, North Star (Winterfest special, published in June)
The Grey Wedding
Option 3 (i.e. where the story starts going off the rails tension-wise)
Present-Day Catastrophe Theory
Even the author has no idea what the hell is going on.
Love Day, Actually
No Place for a Heroine
The Diagnosis (placeholder)
Have Patience, Have Faith (placeholder)
The Induction of a Legend (placeholder)
Venus in Retrograde Rising (placeholder)
(*To people who object to the name Catastrophe Theory at this point: it’s a misnomer, but you try making “bifurcation” sound dramatic.)