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ATKINSON FACULTY OF LIBERAL AND PROFESSIONAL STUDIES
SCHOOL OF ANALYTIC STUDIES & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
S C I E N C E A N D T E C H N O L O G Y S T U D I E S
NATS 1800 6.0 SCIENCE AND EVERYDAY PHENOMENA
Lecture 20: Chaos. The Butterfly Effect
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One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct,
one flap of a seagull's wings would be enough
to alter the course of the weather forever.
Edward Lorenz, as quoted in Michael Cross' The Butterfly Effect.
"For want of a nail, the shoe was lost;
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost;
For want of a horse, the rider was lost;
For want of a rider, the battle was lost;
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost!"
Quoted in James Gleick's Chaos: Making a New Science (p. 23. Penguin Books, 1988).
Readings, Resources and Questions
Lectures 3 and Lectures 6
include some material relevant to the present lecture.
Perhaps the easiest and best introduction to chaos is James Gleick's Chaos: Making a New Science
(Penguin Books, 1988). See also his home page.
Read through What is Chaos? A Five-Part Online Course for Everyone.
A somewhat more technical, yet still understandable—if you skip the math—resource is George T Yurkon's
Introduction to Chaos and Its Real World Applications.
Visit the very interesting Turbulent Landscapes—A Dialogue between Jim Crutchfield and Ned Kahn.
"Turbulent Landscapes: The Natural Forces That Shape Our World [ was a ] landmark exhibition, funded
by the National Science Foundation, [ which presented ] works that use the forces of nature to capture and expose the
complex and seemingly chaotic processes of nature—whirlpools, swirling sandstorms, eroding cliffs, avalanches, tornados."
Read W L Ditto and L M Pecora, Mastering Chaos. This article appeared in the August 1993 issue of
Scientific American (pp. 78 - 84). Here is the abstract: "It is now possible to control some systems that behave chaotically.
Engineers can use chaos to stabilize lasers, electronic circuits and even the hearts of animals."