Even in this age of multi skilled and multi disciplinary world it is difficult to imagine a field of study which blends history and mathematics together.But that is exactly what cliodynamics seeks to do by looking for explanation of historical events through the study of historical data.Not only this it also claims to predict the future with the help of data from past.This is the analysis of rise and fall of empires using mathematical tools to come up with laws of history.
Dr. Peter turchin ,a professor of ecology and mathematics at university of Connecticut is the founder of this trans-disciplinary field of research.According to Dr turchin ,he has found a certain cycle in rise and fall of empires which are shaped by social forces .History is not merely”one damn thing after another”
Hisl studies show that society goes through long-term cycles of violence: There’s a build-up for roughly a century, then a period of violence, or upheaval, for ten or 15 years. Then people get tired of it and the next generation goes back to being peaceful. It’s then the grandchildren of that generation—who never experienced the severity of upheaval firsthand—who are likely to start causing problems again.
His mathematical model predicts we might be headed for a political upheaval in US around 2020 as several indicators of political instability reach their peak levels.though he does not claim that this is a preordained prophecy .Rather his theory wishes to explain the cause for this and suggests that reducing inequality could be the remedy.
Cliodynamics though is not everyone’s cup of tea as many believe that mathematical models cannot always explain the historical events and their outcomes.some say that an isolated event or the rise of an exceptional personality changes the course of and may not be accounted for in a mathematical model.for example we can argue that destruction of world trade centre by a terrorist group changed the course of Afghan history and such a sudden event cannot be explained on the basis of a mathematical model.
This area of research is in nascent stage and only time will tell whether this is real science or pseudoscience .But I guess we have heard this before, history repeats itself ,the difference though is now we are being told when.
For more details on Cliodynamics you can visit Dr turchin’s personal site www.cliodynamics.info