General Question

RandomMrdan's avatar

Do you think the butterfly effect is really that accurate?

Asked by RandomMrdan (7420points) April 25th, 2010 from iPhone

If I went 500 years back in time and killed a butterfly, what kind of realistic things could be changed?

I mean, it’s just a butterfly! I could see how killing a person, or telling someone something could have huge effects, but a bug?! What do you think?

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29 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

There is no way to know. That’s why the time-traveler’s paradox is called a paradox, and that’s why some people consider it proof that it cannot be done.

rebbel's avatar

His wife and children would have been truly sad.
Also the industrial revolution would not have taken place, therefore the time machine would not have been invented either.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Kill a butterfly, and it’s cool. But kill a caterpillar, and we are screwed!

Trillian's avatar

The future has already been altered by this man!

Cruiser's avatar

Quantum mechanics will suggest that everything in the universe is essentially a series of random events and that randomness is what effected the past and all that occurred before again effects the future. So in theory the butterfly effect could/would affect all that comes after that change. The

RandomMrdan's avatar

What do you think would change with the death of a butterfly?

rebbel's avatar

@Trillian
“Mr Cole was taken to a secure mental health facility in Geneva but later disappeared from his cell. Police are baffled, but not that bothered.”
Obviously he traveled back (forward) again.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Was that the butterfly that went up my sleeve when I was riding my motorcycle?
I almost had an accident – but didn’t so here I am on Fluther.

wundayatta's avatar

The question is not what would happen if you traveled back in time. You can’t do that. The more interesting question is how do you change the future if you kill a butterfly now. Or an ant. Or a mouse. Or rub one foot against the other. Or twist and stretch.

But of course, that’s what you do, and only one thing happens. If it happens, then all other things don’t happen. You can never run a what-if experiment. So all discussions of changing the past are just mental onanism. Although, if we do it in a group, does that make it a circle jerk?

dpworkin's avatar

@wundayatta has gotten to the heart of the issue: every event, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, is determinative of something.

gailcalled's avatar

@wundayatta; Milo here; Killing a mouse will change the time line? Oy, Gott, am I in trouble.

dpworkin's avatar

Look what you’ve done to my great grandchild’s Bar Miztvah reception, @gailcalled.

gailcalled's avatar

@dpworkin: Gail here; I am not the mouser in this houser. Talk to His Royal Stalkerness.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

It is, naturally, perfectly accurate when used in the original sense that dynamicists coined it for.

gailcalled's avatar

@hiphiphopflipflapflop: Didn’t I see the identical diagram in the Wall St. Journal that tried to explain the behavior of the top execs at Goldman Sachs?

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

@gailcalled I wouldn’t know. Goldman Sachs has the system rigged so as to mint money whatever they do in the end, so does it matter?

How to get REALLY rich in America: turn the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve boards into your own private mens club, and see to it that the teeth are pulled on the SEC to the point that surfing for porn is the extent of their usefulness.

Parrappa's avatar

Anything could change. Every little inconsequential seeming event ultimately can have an enormous effect on the motion of events. That is why time travel is so interesting. Change one tiny event and you change the world.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

Maybe the butterfly pollinates something really significant.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

If that butterfly or its descendants distracted someone for 2 seconds, long enough for him to miss getting hit by that run away carriage. Now say that person was the father of someone famous like Einstein, or something like that. then Yes the butterfly affect would be that accurate. The whole point of that theory is that sometimes the smallest changes can have a large affect on the world. Most likely killing a butterfly will not have this affect on the world, but in theory if that butterfly was linked to history in this manner, then it would.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Don’t you know what happened to the old lady?

QED.

aprilsimnel's avatar

The Doctor would have to have a few words with you. Geronimo!

CaptainHarley's avatar

“The butterfly effect” deals with large, chaotic systems and the effects that small, seemingly insignificant actions can have on them. It’s statisically unlikely that a butterfly’s wings flapping in China could affect weather in the USA, but is still possible. Whenever sufficient additional energy ( of whatever sort ) is added to any system, chaotic or otherwise, the system at some point will become unstable and reach what is known as a “bifurcation point.” It is at this point that a small action can have greatly disproportional consequences. This is why weathermen are so often wrong.

BTW… this is also the reason why it’s so hard to predict the economies of large countries. We saw the “butterfly effect” in action during the current recession. Additional money ( read: energy ) was added to the system via sub-prime mortgage lending, setting off a chain of events that resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs, the loss of stock value, and many other serious consequences. There were other reasons, but this was the main one. Morgage lending is a very small part of the US economy, yet the effects of the so-called “housing bubble” collapsing were very severe.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. How would you find enough power to go back in time? To do that you would have to take the WHOLE universe with you because just as the body and all its organs are one unit so is the universe. To take this solar system or this planet back in time would leave the present unbalanced as if you were able to send just your brain back to the Little Big Horn, your present body would die because there would be no brain to tell the other organs what to do and the brain would die in the past with out blood, lungs, and heart to keep it alive.

mattbrowne's avatar

The butterfly effect is about being inaccurate in our predictions, because the tiniest variations of the initial conditions do matter long term. This is the reason we got weather forecasts for April 28, 2010, but not April 2013.

gailcalled's avatar

Maybe a butterfly can land on Hypocrisy-Central’s brain case and expunge that murky and overused “Fact from fiction, headache from friction” which makes about as much sense. When I see that, I usually stop reading, get out my butterfly net and head outdoors.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m with @gailcalled on this one!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

And anyone with a butterfly net, squirrel gun or tiger snare can go about their business paying it no mind as a ladybug cares what the butterfly is doing. To say you ignore something show you didn’t ignore it that much because you noticed it enough to mention it, and will again, and again. Freedom of speech no one can butterfly that. God bless America! :-D

MorenoMelissa1's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I gave your comments a star, well done my love. You are not just handsome and sexy but intelligent too.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Sheesh. Y’all git a room! : D

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