Chaos and the butterfly effect ...

Chaos and the butterfly effect …

It was a neat idea; the choir entered from the back of the church, singing as they walked up the aisle single file. At the front of the church they passed over a wooden checkerboard-style floor vent.

A few of the choir had passed over it, when one of the ladies’ high heels caught in the vent. The quick-thinking lady slipped the shoe off her foot and walked on without missing a note.

The quick-thinking man behind her, reached down, grabbed the shoe, and walked on without missing a note but missed the fact that the shoe and the wooden grate were still together, and in his hand.

Head held high, concentrating on his high notes, without missing a note, the next man disappeared into the hole left by the missing grate.

This inconsequential event, except for the poor chap who disappeared before the congregation’s very eyes, is an example of the Chaos Theory, a true scientific theory, out of which, if I’ve got it right, came the thought that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings somewhere in the world can cause a tornado somewhere else.

The Chaos Theory relates to “some nonlinear, dynamic systems that exhibit apparently erratic or random behaviour even though the system has limits and contains no random variables.”

A recession example of this butterfly effect, an expert tells us, is the housewife cleaning the fridge, when her child trips over a toy and hurts herself. She goes to help and leaves the fridge door open. It’s a very hot day, the child’s bruises need more attention, the fridge is open for hours, breaks down and the family needs a new one. To get funds for a new fridge, they decide to add some home repairs, so they sell off a large chunk of IBM stock from her parents’ wedding present.

By chance, at the moment she sells the stock, a market specialist sees her sale, gets it in his head the sale of a large chunk of stock means something, so he follows, selling off his stock in the tech sector. A financial reporter sees both sales, interprets it, reports it must reflect a shortage of silicon, suggests investors unload their tech stocks immediately. Many stockholders follow his advice and a massive sell-off takes place. The butterfly effect at work in the recession.

Tracing the origin of a popular quotation into the realm of science was a new experience for us, and we found a scientist named Edward Lorenz is credited with its origin. The story told is that he was using a numerical computer model in 1961 to rerun a weather prediction, when, as a shortcut on a number in the sequence, he entered the decimal .506 instead of entering the full .506127 the computer would hold. The result was a completely different weather scenario.

He published his findings in a 1963 paper for the New York Academy of Sciences noting that “One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a seagull’s wings could change the course of weather forever.” As is the way of our world, it was dressed up to the more poetic butterfly becoming “A butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas,” or a version thereof.

Hey, that’s a bit of alright, Stan commented. That chaos /butterfly-effect thing is the first scientific principle I’ve wrapped my head around. I got it right away; I see it everyday when I watch Question Period.

If butterfly wings can cause a tornado somewhere else in the world, I wonder what our official territorial birds can do?

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read