and now... for a completely geeky moment....  

JustAGuyInTn 52M
16 posts
7/22/2006 9:44 am
and now... for a completely geeky moment....


"The flapping of a single butterfly's wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month's time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn't happen. Or maybe one that wasn't going to happen, does."

~Ian Stewart

Pilots sometimes use a method called Dead-Reckoning to navigate in areas that have no electronic navigation aids or geographical reference points. This method involves using a compass, a stopwatch, and groundspeed indications. A 1 degree error in course means that he is 1 mile off course after 60 miles. That doesn't seem to be significant at first, but after 600 miles, he is 10 miles off course.. and so on. A variation of 1 MPH means that in one mile, he is 1 mile long or short after one hour. Again, this seems insignificant in the big picture. But what if he was flying from San Francisco to Hawaii, a distance of 2387 miles. A one degree course variation means he is off course by nearly 40 miles. Average flying time from San Francisco to Hawaii on an airliner is approximately 5 hours. A variation of 1 MPH means that he is 5 miles long or short of his goal. Combined with the course error, the pilot can be as much as 45 miles off target. Oahu, the third largest island in the Hawaiian Island chain is 44 miles long and 30 miles wide. A seemingly small deviation in course and/or speed can cause the pilot to miss the island completely and eventually he runs out of fuel and has to ditch in the ocean.

A seemingly innocuous event occurs in your life which causes you to imperceptably change the direction of your life. How many times has a person that you don't even remember meeting has caused you to rethink something that you were about to do and bumped you off of your path ever so slightly? In the short term it seems that deviation had no significant affect on your life... but what about the long term? Have you been a victim of the "butterfly effect"? Can you trace a significant event in your life back to a a seemingly innocent incident which change the course of your life?

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