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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Butterfly Effect and Astrology

For the past few weeks, I have been pondering something called "The Butterfly Effect"... No, not the movie...

Wikipedia describes it as: The butterfly effect is a phrase that encapsulates the more technical notion of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory. Small variations of the initial condition of a nonlinear dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system...

...The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or, for that matter, prevent a tornado from appearing). The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.

It seems to me that so many things in life are effected by the little things. A smile to a cashier at the grocery store puts her/him in good mood, so the grump behind you gets treated a little differently. You let someone in line before you and everyone seems to be more polite that day while driving. A small transit is felt a lot more than a larger, long term transit.

I keep wondering about Chaldean Priests, who sat upon a watchtower to study and record the position of the stars in the night sky. How did this first happen? What was that one, distinct, first event that started all of this observation?

George and Harold are laying on their backs, and it is midnight. Suddenly George nudges Harold and says, "Hey, last time I saw that red round thing in the sky (Mars) we had a battle. You think it will happen again?" Harold shrugs his shoulders and says, "Hard to say. Let's wait and see."

Or perhaps George nudges Harold and says, through a mouth full of Beer Nuts (or the Chaldean equivalent), "I've seen that bar", but Harold hears, "I've seen that star". Suddenly Harold, the Chaldean Priest, whips out his rock and chisel and starts describing the night sky as it appears at that moment in time. George, too embarrassed to correct him, let's Harold continue with this obsession. Low and behold, one fine day, some of the same planets are seen in the sky... And they seem to have meaning! Now George struts around the Priesthood and winks, saying, "I pointed that out to Harold, ya know."

It is mind boggling to think that astronomy and astrology could well have been recorded so early in time all from one small non-related misunderstanding.

At some point in any endeavor, there has to be a first moment of awareness. To be of any note, there has to be some sort of snowball effect, for the momentum to follow into other people's awareness. These small moments may seem random, but are in theory, everything but random.

Wow! This is heavy! Is it any wonder it has taken me two weeks to pen it? Can you find the little things in your life that snowball into something bigger? They will seem random and of little consequence, but cause a much larger change.

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At 1:47 PM, Blogger Twilight said...

Good stuff, VB! I love the scenario you describe with George and Harold!

I expect when early man discovered fire it all started with a random event - and look what happened! :-)

At 1:51 AM, Blogger Velvet Blade said...

Mind boggling, isn't it. The first fire was probably from a lightning strike, but who knows? Maybe some child caveman was acting up and sent to sit in the corner of the cave. Bored, he starts hitting two rocks together. Whammo, his fur cloak catches fire. Forever more, he is called "Barney Blaze".

It's the little things that shift our awareness much more than the big things.

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At 12:51 AM, Blogger Mie Helal said...

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