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Asunara Wisdom's avatar

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What exactly is the Butterfly Effect? I would like to know what exactly it is... I do know it has something to do with little things affecting things greatly later on, but... I would like to know in simple terms that aren't mathematical or overcomplexicated in nature.
The Butterfly effect, at least as far as math and science is concerned, is the idea that small changes can eventually lead to big changes in complicated systems. There's usually a story about butterflies and hurricanes or something of the like, but never mind that. It's really a statement about measurement and prediction.
Suppose that we have a perfect model of how, say, the weather works, in that we tell it what the weather is like now, and what it was like in the past, and we tell it how the Earth is positioned relative to the sun and the moon and all that, and it tells us what the weather will be like in the future. By perfect, I mean that if we give it perfectly accurate data then it will give us perfect forecasts.
The butterfly effect then says "if your data is not completely accurate, perfectly precise, then your predictions will be wildly different from what actually happens." Small errors in measurement quickly become big errors in predictions.

Of course, there are other reasons that our weather forecasts tend to be decent at best for anything more than a week, like the fact that we don't know how weather works, and we can't even get bad data for a lot of the measurements we would need. But even if we did know how weather worked, and even if we could get pretty good data on everything relevant, it still wouldn't be enough to get pretty good predictions.
What he said. The butterfly reference is due to the fact that there was a legend saying that the vibrations from a flap of a butterfly's wings at x will cause a hurricane at y as a cause of being amplified, somehow.
Asunara Wisdom
What exactly is the Butterfly Effect? I would like to know what exactly it is... I do know it has something to do with little things affecting things greatly later on, but... I would like to know in simple terms that aren't mathematical or overcomplexicated in nature.


In "Chaos Theory" (where the term derived) are several postulations of "unseen quantum relationships", where secondary and tertiary (or deeper) effects can be created/observed by a sympathetic or indirect catalyst event or action. stressed

(Chaos Theory is what happened when Statistics mated with Particle Physics and the two birthed many, many Probabilities their still working on understanding, hence the "theoretical" part)

(Sorry, that's about as non-complexicated as it gets)... redface
bubblesqueak24's avatar

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basically with every action comes a reaction no matter how small the action is...drop a seed on the ground years later it has grown into a tree.
I really love the depth of the first few posts explaining it.

In the most simplified terms, the "butterfly effect"/"chaos theory" is the idea of a small change happening although it may not be noticeable at first, however, later on, having an impact and huge effect on things later on.

An example? At 8:32, your dinner burns in the oven, setting off the fire alarm, causing your pet dog outside to bark hysterically, frightening a cat to run out into the street, scaring the driver in a car to swerve into a mailbox, and in that mailbox, held a letter to your neighbor's son's college acceptance letter which he will never receive, and he did not go to that prestigious medical school, never allowing him to study to become a doctor, that could potentially cure the little girl's cancer in years. That instance between 8:32 and 8:33 had a significant cause and effect with one little change, your dinner being burned and setting off the fire alarm.
Ask Jappleack's avatar

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like, if you roll a 6 or a 5 with dice, your future will be very slightly different, even fi you would win in the same manner from rolling either, a different joke may come out in response to people seeing the 5 vs the 6, and technically rolling the dice ever so slightly differently, could chane the air currents very slightly, which in turn very slightly changes alot of other things over a period of time, people use an example of a multi-jointed pendulum where even at the same position when they release it it spins in different patterns every time. Lets say the pattern accidently pushes the air current slightly so eventually a particle int he air makes someoen sneeze who wouldnt have sneezed before, he goes to blow his nose and wash his hands or someone thinks he is sick, then people start behaving slightly differently. Lets say this person notices how he sneezed and criticizes him, he gets into an arguement then has a bad day, drinks slightly more than he should, which eventually makes him drink more in the long run negatively affecting more people's lives.

If only the pendulum spun slightly differently that fateful day lol.
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Asunara Wisdom
What exactly is the Butterfly Effect? I would like to know what exactly it is... I do know it has something to do with little things affecting things greatly later on, but... I would like to know in simple terms that aren't mathematical or overcomplexicated in nature.


Something small and insignificant at one point in time, leads to mass changes at another point. To give you an example from a story book. A man goes back in time to hunt, he steps on a butterfly, this butterfly causes such a change that when he returns the president from his time is now a completely different dictator.

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