The Effect of a Butterfly


The butterfly flapping here in my garden
might be somehow changing something in China.
Perhaps, this is not chaos but synchronicity.
Far away, a child watches another butterfly
and is thinking about me writing this.


In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

The term, “butterfly effect,” is associated with the work of Edward Lorenz. His metaphorical, not literal, example was that a tornado’s exact time of formation and the exact path it takes could be influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.

A very small change in initial conditions can create a significantly different outcome. It’s a theory I consider valid for much more than the weather.