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Monday, October 5, 2020

The Butterfly Effect: Is it Real?

"A flap of a butterfly wings on one side of the world would eventually cause a storm on the other." Many people use this definition as a general representation of the famous Butterfly Effect. The interpretation is that a little something, possibly a thing, event, or anything, will soon cause huge trouble in the future. But was the Butterfly Effect's proponent meant these ideas? Or is he just simply spouting nonsensical things as the butterfly's flapping of wings is insignificant for a storm to occur?

Butterfly Effect, Chaos Theory, Storm
Image: Discovery

In the 1960s a meteorology professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Edward Lorenz, discovered a phenomenon and called it the 'Butterfly Effect'. It was the time when he was studying the weather patterns when he spots something valuable for a discovery. While testing various weather simulations, he ran a computer program and found out that rounding off one variable from 0.506127 to 0.506 has greatly affected the weather predictions for the next two months. This discovery has broken the beliefs of his weather co-statisticians that one should be able to predict the future weather by tracing it back to the historical records of the same weather at the time. 

Edward Lorenz devised a model that presents two identical kinds of weather, at some point, the other will drift apart from the other and will have a different occurrence. One will possibly become calm weather while the other might be the weather of storms. But he also pointed out that these two different, but identical weather have the chance to have identical outcomes.

Through Lorenz's point, we can conclude that his discovery signifies that one cannot possibly predict a precise outcome by just looking at the data. More specifically if one will predict a long-term outcome. It is advised to formulate a shorter time span for a lesser margin of error and more accuracy.

Edward's paper, "Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow" was presented to the public in 1963 in which the Butterfly effect concept was explained. This was used as a basis by others when formulating ideas by making the variables as seemingly identical to the original to avoid greater errors.

Allessandro Filazzola connected the butterfly effect in our daily lives. He said that "Ecosystems are vastly complex, and the loss of a single species might not have a perceived effect, but it could have cascading effects on the entire system. More simply though, just keeping nature as close to its original state is really the most important thing." 

Butterfly Effect, Movie, Choices
Image: The Lighted

Another realization has ticked the minds of Filazzola. If the butterfly effect is integrated into our individual lives, with more than seven billion people on the planet, can one person affect and create a worldwide change to earth? Filazzola stated that he sometimes wonders if his personal actions have indirect effects on the people around him, or in general, to the whole planet. 

"The items I buy, the people I interact with, the things I say, I believe can each have their cascading effects that ripple through society," Filazzola says. "That is why it is important to try and be a good person, to create a positive influence. One thing I also think about is how these indirect effects are often not as small and removed as I believe many would think." He added.

The most popular depiction of the butterfly effect was depicted in an eponymous 2003 film, Butterfly Effect(2003). This film starring Ashton Kutcher was critically panned at the time of the release but after years it has since obtained cult film status. The film introduced the basics of the butterfly effect with the overlapping themes of regret, choice, and even predestination. 

Written by: Yna Barcia, IFY Books

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