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What Is The Butterfly Effect?

Updated on May 19, 2014
The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect | Source

The Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect is a popular name given to what is also known as Chaos Theory (a mathematical subject), which states that even the smallest of actions has unpredictable and important consequences.

More specifically, it is thought that a butterfly flapping it's wings in one part of the world, could start a tornado on the other side of the world. Though chaos theory has been around since the late 1800's, it was only in 1952 that the term The Butterfly Effect was born, in the short story A Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury.

It is impossible to predict the effect even the most innocent and mundane of actions could have, due to the domino effect of each action. But I like to think that an action with good intentions, such as helping a stranger, is more likely to have good consequences and vice-versa, so it's always best to try and act with kindness.

Have you ever heard of this theory before?

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Chaos Theory

In it's simplest form, chaos theory is all about cause and effect and how there is a consequence to everything in one way or another. The slightest difference to the initial conditions of an event can make dramatic changes to the overall outcome.

Chaos theory is often used in meteorology in order to predict the weather based on typical consequences of current conditions. This is why it is so difficult to predict the weather for more than a few days ahead because the slightest difference will cause drastically different results and no-one can foresee what influences there will be~ particularly by humans and animals .

The Butterfly Effect And Reaching Goals

As stated before, it's virtually impossible to predict the long term effect of any action~ unless you know the exact conditions beforehand, which is extremely difficult due to the complexity of nature.

But you can use the butterfly effect to your advantage and keep you on track to your goals. When working towards your goal, it's easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you're not making any progress. But if you keep in mind that if you take small, positive action towards your goal every day, you are making a difference and you will get there.

Along the way you will have unforeseen events happen and you may have to adjust your goal to fit in with those, but every productive action will get you closer to the end result!

The Butterfly Effect Film

Loosely based on chaos theory, The film The Butterfly Effect was created in 2004 and is about a man, Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher), who discovers the ability to go back in time to change the past by making small changes.

As he goes back he discovers that even tiny changes can have dramatic consequenses, both good and bad, for everyone and not just himself. There is a strong lesson throughout the film, that no matter how good your intentions are, even small actions can have undesired outcomes.

The film didn't get good reviews from critics, but was still a big success financially and was nominated and won several awards, including the Pegasus Audience Award at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.

Trailer for The Butterfly Effect Film

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    • cat tales 1-10 profile image

      cat tales 1-10 4 years ago from St. Paul, Minnesota

      Thanks for helping learn something new today. I love butterflies and have always thought they bring good luck and when they are present it is a sign of good things to come. I also like to think they are a presence of someone I love that has past watching me and being there. I have a really cool picture of a butterfly on a tennis shoe at my beach wedding, I like to think it was my dad there. Is that crazy or what?

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Very interesting hub, Karen …

      And I would really love to see that film, it’s such an original storyline.

      Critics, huh, what do they know?

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      That's a great idea - to use the butterfly effect to move towards your goals. Each little step does open up the universe to make things happen.

    • amazingstuff profile image

      Roshan Jerad Perera 4 years ago

      I've always wondered about this Butterfly Effect. You have explained it very simply. Nice write up.