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The Butterfly Effect

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The Butterfly Effect

Elizabeth Stumpf, Contributor

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What is the butterfly effect or chaos theory?

Well, chaos is the unpredictable and teaches one to expect that of the unexpected. The butterfly effect or chaos theory is known as the theory of which if a butterfly were to flap its wings in say, Brazil, could it cause a tornado across the world in Texas? The answer is we cannot be certain. The butterfly effect also can be said as how you act now can mess with ones future. Edward Lorenz, mathematician and meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who loved the study of weather, developed the concept.

The behavior known as the butterfly effect can be seen in simple systems such as a ball placed on the crest of a hill with many different paths. Depending on slight differences in the initial conditions present when the ball is released, the ball may roll into any one of the paths.

Recurrence is the reason that complex systems, such as the weather, are difficult to predict due to the impossibility to measure the initial conditions of any storm accurately. It is due to this recognition of chaos that weather forecasters run multiple simulations with slightly different initial conditions and feature these scenarios as a consensus forecast.

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” -Albert Einstein

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About the Writer
Elizabeth Stumpf, Contributor

I love Rottweilers and horses. Riding is my absolute passion. I am aspiring to go to Morrisville State College to become an Equine Veterinarian.

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The Butterfly Effect