14 Aug 2011

Butterfly

I've been kinda fascinated with the Butterfly Effect for some time. You know, the hypothetical scenario that the flapping of a butterfly's wings could determine whether some weather catastrophe like a hurricane or tornado may happen somewhere. It seems to have been portrayed in the media quite a bit, like in the Final Destination movies for example. Or in one particular Fringe episode.

It can be fascinating to witness such a major event evolve from such a tiny change through a Rube-Goldberg-like process. And I've thought it may be cool if I could always take advantage of this effect. If I could just make  one minute adjustment in the environment to achieve any major outcome that I wanted to realise, that would be cool and fun to exploit.

Maybe I could change someone's career path with a tiny seemingly insignificant action. Perhaps I could leave a pencil lying somewhere on the ground. If a certain person didn't slip on the pencil he may have continue life as normal and then supposedly go on to be a world-class plastic surgeon. If he did slip he may have bumped his head against hard concrete and triggered a neurological mess-up, thus altering his personality and making him pursue other interests like music or sports.

Or suppose I left a tiny wad of sticky gum in the school lift. Without the gum teachers would have proceeded to conduct lessons as usual. But with the gum causing the doors to jam up the teachers would have to resort to stairs, thus buying us students extra time to get to classrooms, or even make a quick detour to the canteen for a quick snack.

Perhaps even clearing up litter can have a drastic effect on how well students might do during exams. Maybe the sight of litter could be such a turn-off for a certain teacher that has very high hygiene standards and, after spotting a scrunched up piece of paper on the floor, may feel quite appalled that students in such an "elite" school fail in such simple tasks like upholding hygiene within the school campuses. This teacher may end up being in such a horrible mood during one of the last few lessons before exams, thus compromising the class's students on what they need to learn for a critical subject, and diminishing their chances of getting an A during the year-end exams.

Of course this kind of logic is really flimsy, just based on causality and full of slim probabilities. Then I wish I could quickly calculate and control parameters to make the environment more controlled, so as to increase the chances of the desired outcome becoming true. Like the guy from that particular Fringe episode. Except without the dire consequence of turning into a human emotionless computing machine like him.

Right now I kinda wish I could cause the year-end holidays to come much sooner...