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A system that exits far from thermodynamic equilibrium (see thermodynamics), hence efficiently dissipates the heat generated to sustain it, and has the capacity of changing to higher levels of orderliness (see self-organization). According to Prigogine, systems contain subsystems that continuously fluctuate. At times a single fluctuation or a combination of them may become so magnified by possible feedback, that it shatters the preexisting organization. At such revolutionary moments or "bifurcation points", it is impossible to determine in advance whether the system will disintegrate into "chaos" or leap to a new, more differentiated, higher level of "order". The latter case defines dissipative structures so termed because they need more energy to sustain them than the simpler structures they replace and are limited in growth by the amount of heat they are able to disperse. (Krippendorff)
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