Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions by kerosenekate
kerosenekate

Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions

by kerosenekate in Traditional

Sensitive dependence on initial conditions is a component of chaos theory which is more popularly referred to as "the butterfly effect."

Robert Redford's character in the movie Havana popularized the use of a hurricane with the butterfly theory when saying, "And a butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean."

However that was in 1990, and the butterfly became the popular representative of sensitive dependence on initial conditions way back in 1972 when the leading theoretician on the butterfly effect, Edward Lorenz, wasn't easily reached to provide a title for a talk he was about to give to the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Philip Merilees, a meteorologist acting as the session convenor for the meeting, came up with a title in his stead: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas

Thereafter, the poetic butterfly replaced its predecessor, a seagull, as the seemingly miniscule instigator of a pattern of events that might eventually be related to a massive, impressive catastrophe such as a tornado.

This illustration of sensitive dependence is done in prismacolor colored pencils on bristol vellum. It is 15"x15". It looks much better in person, since the reflective nature of colored pencil makes it difficult to get a good scan of. Ah well.

It might also be worth noting that I am colorblind to part of the yellow spectrum, so working on this piece meant keeping careful track of the names of pencils and what I used where, asking for lots of outsider opinions, and a constant feeling of deep panic. But I like to defy my colorblindness, so woohoo! I referenced a historic photograph from weather tracking history for inspiration...

Image copyright © Kate NY

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