The Butterfly Effect, simply put, is the phenomenon where a small change in the initial conditions may pile up over time, and in the end, create a massive effect. Just like a small snowball rolled downhill may gather more snow on the way and by the time it reaches the base, it turns huge! This forms the basis of a rather emerging field of science: “Chaos”. It is just what the name suggests – the study of highly complex systems that are sensitive to very slight changes, sometimes, even to the ones they themselves create!
Emergence of a New Science
What else would’ve been a better field for the emergence of Chaos than Meteorology, where even a small change in the wind speed may delay monsoon by days! The Butterfly Effect was discovered for the first time in 1961, in the laboratory of one such MIT Meteorologist, Edward Lorenz. Lorenz was more of a mathematics person than his colleagues. He had never been much interested in pure Meteorology, instead, he wanted to encapture the beauty of weather by mathematical formulas, which would allow Meteorologists like him to predict the weather not just days, but months, even years in advance!