Systems Thinking: How butterflies ruin BBQs

location_city Sydney schedule Jul 21st 12:00 - 12:30 PM place Level 4 - Room 401 (59) people 9 Interested

Did you know that a butterfly can cause a hurricane? You might have heard of this idea called the Butterfly Effect. If a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, it can start a storm in Sydney.

But it sounds a bit hard to believe. How could the movements of a tiny creature have such a massive effect on the weather? And if it's true, should we give up hope trying to predict the weather? After all, no one likes soggy burger.

In fact, many systems in our world have this sort of "chaotic" behaviour, including weather, traffic, and the economy. It's not surprising to us that with so many moving parts, systems like this are hard to predict. But you might be surprised to learn even very simple systems exhibit chaotic behaviour.

In this talk we will study the nature of chaos by playing with very simple chaotic system: a fishing boat rocking in the ocean. What sort of waves cause the ship to capsize? We will use the scientific method to form a hypothesis, design and build a virtual experiment, and see in how the system behaves. Best of all, we will watch the results unfold in real-time using just a web browser!


Outline/Structure of the Talk

Talk will run approx. 30 minutes and will have 4 sections:

  • Understand the difference between randomness and chaos
  • Look at a really simple chaotic system
  • Learn how to build a web-based physics simulator
  • Watch a live demo of the physics simulator

Learning Outcome

  • Know the difference between chaos and randomness
  • Understand how something can be both well behaved and ultimately unpredictable
  • Have some ideas how to build a chaos simulator using browser technologies

Target Audience

Anyone who loves to know how the universe ticks

schedule Submitted 4 years ago