14th May 2007 – Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory – Can the flap of a butterfly’s wing in England cause a hurricane in Asia?

Professor Tom Mullin from Manchester University, with the help of several mechanical models helped us look into the hidden order which lies beneath seemingly very complex systems. The butterfly effect discovered by a weatherman shows that very tiny changes can have very large consequences. The flapping of a single butterfly’s wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month’s time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn’t happen. Or maybe one that wasn’t going to happen, does. There are many systems which seem very complex but which can be very simply modelled.
So what’s behind this seemingly random but fascinating regularity? Great Attractors keep things on the straight and narrow but for how long? The secret of nature’s most complex structures is in the simple techniques by which they are built and managed, combining a simple repetitive act with the strangely helpful chaos of unpredictability, in order to make their growth and evolution in this world successful.

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