Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect

Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics which deals with the wildly differing outcomes resulting from small differences in inputs. Its discovery (invention?) is accredited to American meteorologist Edward Lorenz who was trying to come up with a computer program to predict weather patterns in 1961. He discovered that tiny changes can lead to large effects. So tiny, in fact, that this led to the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in Beijing could have an effect on weather patterns in New York a month later. Chaos Theory resulted in paradigm shifts not only in mathematics, but across the natural sciences. It dealt a blow to the idea that events in nature can be thought of as being deterministic - in much the same way that Heiseberg's Uncertainty Principle did.

A Butterfly in Beijing

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