Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory is sometimes called the Butterfly Effect, so called because of the title of a paper given by Edward Lorenz in 1972 to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. entitled Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas? The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.

We've all heard about this theory in movies such as Jurassic Park and The Butterfly Effect and recently, Premonition with Sandra Bullock. But does it seem feasible? Well, why not? Look at everything you do in your life. Let's say that you are running late for work and on the way you are speeding. You get into an accident and someone gets killed. If you hadn't been late to work, would you have still had the accident? And if the accident had never happened, that person who died would still be alive. Since they are not, their whole family and future has been effected by your being late to work. What about any future children they may have had? See how that one thing can effect the world?

But as in movies such as the aforementioned, sometimes it may seem that no matter what a person does, the outcome is the same. No matter how many times Ashton Kutcher went back to change the past, the results changed but never for the better. Something always went wrong. Does this mean we have no say in our fate? That's a tricky question that scientists and religion theorists have grappled with for ages.

An even deeper question, what if Hitler had become an artist? At 18 he took his inheritance and moved to Vienna to attend art school. Had his path in life been different there are a few theories on what might have been different.

-Germany could have descended into civil war
-Soviet Union and communism could have expanded Westward into Europe earlier than
it did
-Japan could have become one of the world's 4 superpowers (UK, USSR & USA)
-No one would ever talk about the Middle East because there'd be no Israel

The modern State of Israel was created in 1948 as a Jewish homeland in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Before the rise of Nazism, most Jews lived in Europe, Israel was a British territory called Palestine, primarily Muslim with only 10% of the population being Jewish.

So in theory, anything you do can change the world and certainly the course of history.

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