It's the basic idea of chaos theory. Essentially it says that a very big outcome, like a hurricane, might be the result of a very small initial cause, like a butterfly flapping its wings. Think of it as an explanation for why we can't predict the weather accurately weeks in advance; weather can be thought of as a deterministic system, but that system is so sensitive that we can't necessarily determine what effect the current weather is going to have on the weather two weeks from now. Chaos theory doesn't really belong in this board as it is a mathematical concept.
Where did this meme spring from? The origin of the phrase is the 1972 paper "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?" The only other "source" of the concept is Ray Bradbury's short story "A Sound of Thunder", but there it's a butterfly getting stepped on in the Cretaceous that leads to changes in the year 2155.
>>508279 No no no man, again, I'm probably butchering this, but the butterfly is just an example of the interconnectiveness. It could be anything, a person kicking over a rock, a dog getting hit by a car, a flower thorn pricking a finger...
>>508286 >Essentially it says that a very big outcome, like a hurricane, might be the result of a very small initial cause, like a butterfly flapping its wings Well, i never really read it, but to my understanding, more specific explanation of it is that everything effects everything. Like you said, its more of a mathematical concept, but ultimate example is that the force which atoms have on each other never disappears, it just gets infinitely smaller, meaning that you moving your pinky few milimeters during sleep affects a red dwarf billions of light years away. And the affected atoms affect more atoms, the more into future you go, this effect grows exponencionaly (i dunno how to translate big words), meaning something as small as butterfly can cause natural disasters.
>>508223 I don't know about the butterfly effect but the Murphy's Law is not a law, is just a concept about "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong", it's not to be taken seriously, it is briefly discussed in science and engineering courses but it really doesn't affect the industry as much as some people like to believe
>Well, i never really read it, but to my understanding, more specific explanation of it is that everything effects everything.
This is definitely something that is true, but what the metaphor of the butterfly and the hurricane is specifically used to examine is the idea that for deterministic nonlinear systems, such as weather models, small changes in initial state can lead to huge changes over time. Nothing in the concept says there is an exponential growth exactly, the point is just to consider that the "initial conditions" of a system from which we try to determine its eventual results could be arbitrarily insignificant to our eyes, yet still have a considerable effect on the outcome of the system.
>>508306 Hey man, at least I'm admitting I don't know, or unfamiliar, I'd say that's at least worth something. This isn't my area of focus, I'm in sociology and religious studies. Chaos Theory has been brought up before is sociological circles.
A meteorologist made up the term to explain that weather couldn't be calculated with perfect precision, because "even a butterfly's flight can cause tornadoes in the other side of the world". Thus, it is effectively impossible to create computing systems capable of analyzing all the influencing factors in predictions.
It basically means that scientists should abandon the "deterministic dream" of learning enough about the world to create predictions about the future, and simply do science for the sake of engineering and such.
>>508223 In Mathematica, a chaotic system is when every aspect of a system of process is defined by a set of clear and exact rules. However, these rules are so exact and precise, that even the smallest change in initial conditions, can cause a massive change down the line of the process. The "Butterfly Effect" was a metaphor used in a mathematical paper, to demonstrate what a truly chaotic system would look like in real life. The small change in conditions being the initial flap of the butterfly's wings, and the massive change down the line being the hurricane that ensues.
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