Physics trivia

# Chaos theory

Chaos Theory determines that minimal changes at the beginning of an event can generate profound future changes, which would make the system chaotic and unpredictable.

Chaos theory says that insignificant changes at the beginning of a given event can generate profound changes in the future, which would make the system chaotic and impossible to predict. This theory is related, for example, to variations in the financial market , climate change and population growth .

Imagine the following situation: João was going on a motorcycle to take the entrance exam to enter a certain university. On the way, a nail punctured the tire of his motorcycle, preventing him from arriving in time to take the tests, so João enrolled in another university. The place, the people he lived with and related to, the job and internship opportunities could have been completely different if that nail hadn’t punctured João’s motorcycle tire at that moment. The little nail may have completely changed the young man’s future to the point of altering who his children and grandchildren would be!

## Chaos Theory Proposal

Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in 1960, noticed, when analyzing the data provided to a computer program that made climate predictions, that the lack of a few decimal places caused drastic changes in the forecasts over time. Initially, this lack of decimal places did not generate any significant change, but in the long term, the accumulation of minimally altered results generated profound changes in the climate. In the words of Lorenz, “the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can generate a hurricane in Texas!”.

## Chaos Theory Approached in Film

Many film productions bring the concept of Chaos Theory. The 1985 classic Back to the Future depicts the story of young Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), who travels back in time in a machine created by scientist Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). McFly’s interaction with his parents and acquaintances generates profound changes in the future, altering the history of people’s lives and even the development of the city.

The Brazilian production Homem do Futuro, from 2011, portrays the story of physicist Zero (Wagner Moura). By creating a strange machine, Zero goes back to college days and tries to win over his lover, Helena (Alinne Morais). Whenever Zero causes a small change in past events, significant changes occur in the future.

## Is there real application for this theory?

Because it is relatively new, Chaos Theory is still the subject of many studies and analysis. However, we know that it is related, for example, to the understanding of non-linear systems and the impossibility of making long-term climate predictions.