Friday, March 29, 2013

Where s my butterfly ?

            It seems the clocks have stopped their parade when they glanced into my text. Bainite, crystallographic textures and microstructures were creeping in my pages like a bug trying to find its prey.  I was already eyeing my watch, in an agonizing wait for the needles to kiss at noon. With my palms resting my face and my eyelids were pretty eager to come down. To my horror, they have already met once and next in queue were my grey cells. They seem to embrace my Pandora world with alacrity, the bio luminescent creatures jumping around me. Floating mountains, rivers tasting like trickle or the shades left in my palms when butterflies touched me.  Now there’s whirlpool, trying to suck all my hallucinations in to an abyss. I almost lost balance in trying my act of staying alert. I cursed myself for not draining a mug of coffee to keep my eyes open, so that I could launch my plan B.

            Now it was my desktop’s turn to go into sleep mode and I decided to take a stroll. Perhaps I was blank with no really thoughts to brew in my mind. The crowded cafeteria and buzzing library were no more attractive to me. Before my thoughts could zero in a location, I found my legs taking me to the spot which I walk across daily- The Lake at my university. It was a windy day that made the water perform its ballet dance in the form of ripples to an empty theatre. Occasionally, the very few eucalyptus trees that adorned the lake acknowledged their presence by a ghastly blow. The blow rendered the dusty brown colored ducks to quack. Most serene things lie in front of us, but we fail to acknowledge it, like the shimmering lake and solitary girl in the lawn beside the lake.

            By now you would have guessed what my plan B was. I slipped myself under a tree not too far away from the girl. There was a sudden burst of clouds trying to storm in and hang above my heads. I had a half smile when I saw for the day’s weather forecast in my phone. “Bright sunshine for the next four days”. I wondered how mankind always wanted to move ahead in a race with the nature. Ironically, the nature doesn’t mind us; neither as a competitor nor finds itself in a race. That’s how Lorenz would have felt few decades back. It’s time to talk about the man who tried to tie up the loose ends of chaos and order.

            Lorenz was a meteorology professor in MIT, simulating weather patterns which were based on 12 different variables. He left his office to grab a coffee leaving the machine to run. When he came back, he found a different set of results contradicting to the previous one. He was repeating a simulation so he was supposed to get similar kind of results, but to his surprise he found a result that could have a different perception on how we see nature. In his repetition, he had rounded off one variable from 0.506127 to .506. Such tiny alteration could have dramatic transformation in the weather pattern for the next two months, leaving behind Lorenz with a profound corollary of “Chaos theory” or the famous “Butterfly Effect”.

“Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?”

            Lorenz saw that if a system is more likely to vary on change rapidly, it is likely to produce a repeating sequence, to speak in English, it’s impossible to predict that changing systems. This ultimately draws us the trait of most natural systems, the chaos. Most things around us exhibit such outlandish phenomenon. The way the ducks move in this pond; arrangement of leaves in these eucalyptus trees; the irregular color tone of grass across the sprawling lawn shared by me and the dame. They all display chaotic behavior, a science that varies within its limits to maintain the chaos in order within itself.

“Tiny variations…. Never repeat and vastly affect the outcome – Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park”
          There’s a beautiful quote, ‘when chaos began, classical science stopped’. Early 20th century scientists were keen on inventing things to make humankind more comfortable by sacrificing few heavenly pleasures. They were basked in a special ignorance about this beautiful (I love to call it like that) disorder in nature. What they finally saw was an impeccable order in every chaos and disorderliness in most natural systems. Scientists from every field were digging to find orderliness and predict stuffs that were out of bound. Good economists don’t talk about markets for the next month. They knew it’s like plotting a graph with more than 8 or 9 variables in 3 dimensional space and doing an analysis.

“The key to unlocking the hidden structure of a chaotic system is in determining its preferred set of behaviors called as attractor”

   Our brain could be a perfect example of chaos being staged in an order by neuron signals. At this moment the millions of cells in my heart is working as a cohort in the right sequence to produce a beat or beat faster when the girl beside me smiles at me. These chaotic movements of the heart make it to pump for decades with less wear and tear. Now that we see chaos everywhere, but the first braggart who was chaotic, was our solar system. There pops another question is it possible to identify the butterfly (the driving force) behind the tornado, the answer is simple – No.

“If the flap of a butterfly’s wings can be instrumental in generating a tornado, it can equally well be instrumental in preventing a tornado”

This has led to another hot debate that has been driving several campaigns and political drama. If you can’t predict the weather beyond few days, then global warming becomes placebo and goes in our bins. Nature’s whimsical behavior could be attributed towards its complex roots. Trying to make out the pattern of stars in galaxy or the trivial smoke whirl from an agarbathi. The idea of trying to master nature is out of question, so we try to appreciate what really happens. When we try to exploit or provoke nature, it could be our folly; rather, try to enjoy and appreciate it, it could be your vector for a beautiful relationship.

“Chaos theory tries to find some underlying order in what happens to be random events or data”

The wonderful breeze that flows across with the grey clouds all geared up for the first shower of the month all seem so exhilarating to me. Also my appetite for muffin grew soon, before the first drop of rain landed on my brow. Before I could regain my composure, the rain came down, like children out of their school. The girl beside me stood up while she tried to stuff her Ipod and pink ear plugs in her kit.

“ Heyyy !! I have an umbrella, why don’t you pop in?  “

I thanked Lorentz for not arriving at an equation to predict the weather and my new friend nature for such a lovely day.

PS: Plan A was to look for plan B



  1. Good write up!
    An underlying assumption of chaos theory is that things happen by random combination. Maybe someone is coordinating such changes at all space and time simultaneously.

  2. Good work...The concept is interesting..I had no idea about CHAOS.. I guess we can relate it in our day to day lives as well..