Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17


Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016

In 1963 one of Lorenz’s colleagues

remarked that if he was right, ‘one flap of

a seagull’s wings would be enough to alter

the weather forever’. In 1972, in the title of

a paper, Lorenz asked ‘Does the flap of a

butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado

in Texas?’ Thus chaos theory found its

popular name: the butterfly effect. Of

course, the flap of a single butterfly’s wings

does not cause the tornado on its own –

numerous other factors play their part.

But that one flap can be (to change the

metaphor) the straw that breaks the camel’s


Chaos theory can also usefully explain

mood, effect and actions in societies,

possibly even one day correctly predicting

revolutinary situations. So far any

investigation in this area seems only to

provide cause/effect reasons for change

in hindsight, however already history is

able to suggest favourable conditions for

positive or negative change, and once

crucial variables are properly identified,

who knows?

In the meantime ... the struggle



Despite its name, chaos theory is rigorously

mathematical and has helped to elucidate

the hidden order that underlies a host of

apparently random systems – from the

factors precipitating epileptic fits to the

air turbulence that causes drag in moving

vehicles, and from fluctuations in wild

animal populations to the flow of traffic on

congested city streets.


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