Chaos and Complexity
With this year’s Nobel Prize for physics going to three scientists working on climate science and complexity theory, there’s been renewed interest in complex systems and how our understanding of them can help guide how we positively impact the future.
I touch on both chaos and complexity in both Films from the Future and Future Rising, albeit somewhat lightly. And given the current interest, I though it might be interesting to post the relevant sections of the books here.
The Butterfly Effect
From Films from the Future, Chapter 2
From Chapter 39 of Future Rising
Re-reading the section on chaos theory from Films from the Future, I added this addendum to an article posted on Medium:
Looking back at my work, there’s always stuff I wish I’d included or written differently. In this case, it’s the absence of a nod to Ray Bradbury’s 1952 short story A Sound of Thunder.
I read the story as a teenager and remember it well, which is why it’s doubly frustrating that I neglected to weave it into the book chapter. The story involves a paradox where a group of explorers travel backward in time to hunt dinosaurs, just to discover when they arrive back in the present the world has changed subtly.
The cause of the change turns out to be a prehistoric butterfly, found crushed on the sole of one of the explorers boots — a seemingly-insignificant event that, nevertheless, sent unpredictable ripples forward in time.
We don’t know whether Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder influenced Edward Lorenz when he articulated his version of the Butterfly Effect. But the similarity between the ideas — and the dinosaur tie-in — would have made this a perfect strand for the story I wove around Jurassic Park and Chaos Theory.
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