Butterfly Effect

The ButterflyEffect -- a first condition being different, may indeed completely change the result of a chaotic process. Example: Back in 1961 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Edward Lorenz, a research meteorologist, noticed that two plots of predicted weather patterns generated by his weather simulation program did not match each other, even though he started with the same initial conditions for both simulations. Lorenz could only explain the difference by assuming that something had gone wrong in the computer. But when he more carefully examined the process he determined the real reason for the differences was due to a hasty rounding off one of one of his starting parameters in the second run, typing for example, .521 instead of .521234. Lorenz assumed that one part in a thousand was inconsequential. The results proved that he was wrong. The second pattern was the same for just a short time, as the pattern began to diverge until the resulting weather patterns showed no similarity. He realized that this small difference had caused a tremendous effect on the resulting weather pattern. This has come to be known as the ButterflyEffect, a theory that poses that even the flutter of a butterfly's wings in a South American jungle might cause enough change in air currents to cause a typhoon in Asia later. It may seem to be an extreme stretch, but it may also be true.

We may be able to predict the weather, but not for any great length of time. Architects and structural engineers must concern themselves with dynamic stresses. A small factor, that of wind flowing over a suspension bridge can set up oscillations that start out as periodic, but become destructive over a span of time. Wind swirling around a building can create chaotic patterns that must be taken in to account. And an earthquakes can generate oscillations in beams, which may become great enough to cause structural failure. What this show us is that chaos and small things still operate within a framework. As a programmer it may be that things you consider unimportant and inconsequential, when in fact they can have effects that cause failure, in your programs, or in your career. So pay attention to little things while dealing at the same time with demanding things.

Can be explained by ChaosTheory

Confusingly, the LorenzButterfly? is a different animal entirely, and orthogonal to the BE. One wonders if Lorenz named the effect before plotting a small bi-modal attractor and noticing it looked like a butterfly. But while the BE represents sensitivity to initial conditions, the LB represents resistance to them.

But, some conversations about ChaosTheory by amateurs (like me) will often spin closer and closer to one idea, without arriving at it, and leaping to the other wing when they get to close. Then they will spin closer and closer to another idea, without achieving it either... --PhlIp

CategoryPhysics (but barely so)

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