Monday, June 13, 2011

The Butterfly Effect?

Lorenz Attractor
Thought I would talk a walk on the wild side this morning: Science's attempt to explain the unexplainable - Chaos Theory.

Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, with applications in several disciplines including physics, economics, biology, and philosophy. Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions; an effect which is popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable.This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos. Note: from Wikipedia.

 In short, per a total lay man's approach, shit happens. If it does not turn out as you predict then it can be blamed on the butterfly effect:. The butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. For example, the presence or absence of a butterfly flapping its wings could lead to creation or absence of a hurricane.

Which if you read the previous blog leads us back to clouds and weather. There has been a lot of strange weather of late. It could be that our meteorological science needs a paradigm shift. Or it could be just too many - or not enough butterflies. But is the lack of butterflies due to changing weather patterns? See Mobius Strip. Hmmmm, imagining the butterfly effect on a mobius strip. But I digress.

My subject, I think, was strange weather.

Super Cell forming
I did not take the above picture but I have seen many like them.

They form over our mountains when the atmospheric conditions are just right plus or minus that butterfly. The head out to the plains of the United States after us photographers are done with them and become rather less recognizable but more deadly.

Tuscaloosa tornado
All of which brings up my question of if the super cells form here why don't we get any rain? I do not want the tornadoes. The plains can keep them. But our forests are so dry it seems fires spring up just out of nowhere. And if a butterfly can effect the weather what about ash and smoke.


So Iowa and large sections of Louisiana are under water due to floods on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and we are burning up out here. Seems we went from winter to summer drought awfully darn fast. Does anyone think that either of those large smoke clouds looks like a butterfly? Maybe the bottom one? Top looks like a leaping rabbit to me.

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