Updated: Oct 14, 2020
“You could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby … changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole.”
This quote was found in the book, “The Vocation of Man”, which was by Johann Gottlieb Fichte. This quote symbolizes a phenomenon that many of us might have heard before in our lives. It is called, “The Butterfly Effect”.
What this “Butterfly Effect” is, is basically (by definition in the chaos theory) the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of deterministic and nonlinear system can result in large difference in a later state.
What most of us are familiar with regarding this phenomenon is that “small changes will have a massive impact”, which is totally untrue.
The real understanding of this phenomenon is the fact that small changes in a state that has totally no randomness involved, which means that an output produced will always be the same from an initial condition and has an unproportionate ratio of input and output of the system, will lead to a large difference in a later state.
This means that the small changes will act as a catalyst in the initial conditions, which has the potential to snowball into a completely different direction when it reaches a much later state, which does not mean that the small changes has a direct effect on how big the subsequent impact will be.
This phenomenon was derived from the work of Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist. A simplified version of what happened was that Edward Lorenz was computing a weather prediction in 1961, which he stopped the computer and typed in a line of numbers before setting it running again and went for a coffee break.
After an hour or so, he returned to his desk and the computer has already simulated about two months’ worth of weather predictions. However, he found out that the results of the latter computations were completely different from the initial results before he went for his coffee break.
Determined to find out what went wrong, he decided to take matters into his own hands first before calling for a servicing on the computer as it would help speed up the process of figuring out the anomaly.
He realized that instead of the actual full precision of the numbers, he keyed in a rounded-off value of the values in the initial conditions. This led to cause the amplifying of the results as the computer went on processing, which made a massive difference between the actual results of the computation compared to what was actually produced.
Hence, he metaphorized this with the example of how the “minor perturbations like a butterfly flapping its wings”, could result in aiding the production of a catastrophe like “a tornado”.
This phenomenon is very relatable in our everyday lives. A careless mistake in an examination could end up being a grade difference in your results, which could cause you the opportunity to make it to your dream course, or a miscalculation in the projected earnings of your company could cause you to lose your job, or worse, the collapse of your company.
This is why it is so important to keep yourself in check, do not hesitate to take that first step. Setbacks and hurdles are inevitable, but as long as you choose to take that first step and get out of your comfort zone, regardless of how small that step is, you will still be inching closer to your dreams every single day.
Therefore, it is essential that you make every single moment of your life count, because the small changes you make today, will be the reason why the future you will thank your current self in time to come.
The big shots we know of today, in the finance industry, Warren Buffet developed an interest in business and investing at an incredibly young age of 19, in the IT industry, Bill Gates dropped out of high school because he decided not to waste his time in school as he already has an aspiration of building up the technological industry.
There will definitely be a price to pay for success to come by, and for Bill Gates, it was the risk of dropping out of a prestigious high school and venturing into a business that was not well-established and known at that point in time. However, it did not take long before he topped the Forbes’ list of being the richest man on Earth multiple times.
Never let others’ criticisms and comments be the determining factor to the decisions of your path and future, regardless of how ‘unrealistic’ your dreams are in the eyes of others. We are all humans created to live on this Earth, and you should never feel inferior to another.
If you aspire to be a cook in future, take up culinary classes, or even start by watching culinary tutorials on YouTube, since it is free and still as educational for a beginner. Then slowly progress by practicing the basics of cutting: slicing, dicing and julienning, learn about the different herbs and spices in the world of aromatics and flavors, the beautiful combinations and creations of the flavor profiles of a dish.
You might not get these things right the first time, but as you are making mistakes, you are constantly learning and growing, moving closer and closer to your goals.
Another good example is the world-renowned culinary chef that has been awarded a total of 16 Michelin stars throughout his career, Gordon Ramsay. Gordon Ramsay aspired to be a soccer athlete when he was at the age of 12, however, he seriously injured his knee and smashed his cartilage during training when he was in the Rangers, which put an end to his football career.
Being a boy filled with passion, he decided to redirect that burning passion into the world of culinary. Despite being bullied and abused with violence since he was an amateur, he did not give up but pushed on to further his career. This determination of his landed him in the place he is in today, filling his cabinet with numerous prestigious awards and honorable titles, including one from Queen Elizabeth herself!
In conclusion, the lesson learnt behind the phenomenon of the butterfly effect is not to hope that the small changes you make will affect your dreams directly and see the effects of it immediately, but to know that every single positive change you make, regardless of how small it is, will aid you in the process of heading towards the direction of your chosen path.
Learn to know that the choices you make today will affect your tomorrow, tread carefully and not make rash decisions in life, always plan beforehand and prepare for setbacks, set your heart, mind and soul towards the skies and beyond!
And that’s all for today, students! Math Lobby hopes that after this article, you are able to keep the concept of the phenomenon of the “Butterfly Effect” in your mind, and stick by the principle of “starting to make small changes” and work towards your dreams!
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As always: Work hard, stay motivated and we wish all students a successful and enjoyable journey with Math Lobby!
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