Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tracing Lines and Chaos Theory

Watch this very cool video where 500 people attempt to trace the line the previous person drew. What starts off as a straight line quickly becomes a mess.

A Sequence of Lines Traced by Five Hundred Individuals from clement valla on Vimeo.

Others have commented on how this resembles evolution or the human condition. That sounds about right.

But what I like about it is how it beautifully represents chaos theory. This is a branch of mathematics that has applications in a number of science fields. More people have probably heard of the butterfly effect. This comes out of chaos theory and it in effect states that small changes in initial conditions can lead to wildly different outcomes. In this video notice how that at first the lines change only slightly, but by the end it looks completely different from its original state. If you ran this experiment again and started with the same first line as this one, you would have a completely different outcome. That's chaos theory.

It really is a fascinating subject and has led to all sorts of discoveries in meteorology, physics, and other sciences.

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