Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions"

Sensitive dependence on initial conditions is a component of chaos theory which is more popularly referred to as "the butterfly effect." The butterfly effect has absolutely nothing to do with Ashton Kutcher unless Ashton Kutcher is getting eaten by a tornado.

Robert Redford's character in the movie Havana popularized the use of a hurricane with the butterfly theory when saying, "And a butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean."

However that was in 1990, and the butterfly became the popular representative of sensitive dependence on initial conditions way back in 1972 when the leading theoretician on the butterfly effect, Edward Lorenz, wasn't easily reached to provide a title for a talk he was about to give to the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Philip Merilees, a meteorologist acting as the session convenor for the meeting, came up with a title in his stead: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas

Thereafter, the poetic butterfly replaced its predecessor, a seagull, as the seemingly miniscule instigator of a pattern of events that might eventually be related to a massive, impressive catastrophe such as a tornado.

I, meanwhile, just illustrated it with colored pencil on 15x15 inches of bristol. Yeehaw! The scan looks like crap compared to the piece in person, plus I've made some minor adjustments along the bottom sections since the scan was made. I'll have to scan it again later.