FINAL paper - The Butterfly Effect An In-Depth Examination...

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The Butterfly Effect: An In-Depth Examination of Its Importance and Implications April 1, 2010 Mark Einsiedel It was once said “change anything and you change everything.” I intend to investigate and apply this idea throughout this paper in an attempt to prove its validity and relevance. If I were to sneeze – would it affect the future? Yes, it would. The simple fact that you are reading my paper right now rather than doing anything else is affecting the future in profound ways. Because of your decision to read my paper, one that seemed so mundane and insignificant, everyone in the future will be slightly different than they would be had you chosen to do something else. In this paper, I will explain the dependence of systems on initial conditions, a theory known as the “Butterfly Effect” and its importance and implications on the world. As you
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E i n s i e d e l | 2 are sitting there probably thinking “So what?”, brace yourself because I am going to go far beyond just the concept to include predicting the future, random events, free will, and much more. Hopefully, after reading my paper, you will never see reality in the same way again. Before I completely delve into the subject completely, it is important that you understand the key concept so as to be able to relate it to further concepts I introduce and tie together. You do not need to be a mathematician nor a philosopher to comprehend these concepts, but it will undoubtedly take a commitment to deep thinking. I would personally recommend traveling to the store immediately, before going any further, to buy a bigger hat because I fully intend to stretch your mind. I hope to be able to clearly explain and prove just how sensitive the future is on the present. This concept has been around since 1890, but it was meteorologist Edward Lorenz who helped propel the idea into popular acceptance through his weather prediction modeling. Lorenz found that changes in initial conditions that should have been statistically insignificant led to entirely different weather scenarios in the long run. Lorenz ran a particular sequence in his computer and decided to attempt to replicate it. He re-entered a value from his printout, a value taken halfway through his sequence, and let it run for awhile. When he returned, he found results that were entirely contradictory to his expectations. In fact, the results were radically different than the outcomes from his first sequence. Lorenz noticed that his printout had truncated a few of the decimals, and thus the number entered had a slight variation from the actual numbers. Lorenz was astonished that this change could have caused such unpredictable results, especially since everything in the second scenario started the same as everything in the first scenario. However, what he found as he analyzed the results was that the slight variation began to multiply and within a relatively short period of time the new weather pattern was significantly different from
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This note was uploaded on 04/11/2010 for the course EMAE 172 taught by Professor Jimdrake during the Spring '09 term at Case Western.

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FINAL paper - The Butterfly Effect An In-Depth Examination...

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