The Science Behind the Butterfly Effect

Pubblicato il 6 dic 2019
Chaos theory means deterministic systems can be unpredictable. Thanks to LastPass for sponsoring this video. Click here to start using LastPass:
Animations by Prof. Robert Ghrist:
Want to know more about chaos theory and non-linear dynamical systems? Check out:
Butterfly footage courtesy of Phil Torres and The Jungle Diaries:
Solar system, 3-body and printout animations by Jonny Hyman
Some animations made with Universe Sandbox:
Special thanks to Prof. Mason Porter at UCLA who I interviewed for this video.
I have long wanted to make a video about chaos, ever since reading James Gleick's fantastic book, Chaos. I hope this video gives an idea of phase space - a picture of dynamical systems in which each point completely represents the state of the system. For a pendulum, phase space is only 2-dimensional and you can get orbits (in the case of an undamped pendulum) or an inward spiral (in the case of a pendulum with friction). For the Lorenz equations we need three dimensions to show the phase space. The attractor you find for these equations is said to be strange and chaotic because there is no loop, only infinite curves that never intersect. This explains why the motion is so unpredictable - two different initial conditions that are very close together can end up arbitrarily far apart.
Music from "The Longest Rest" "A Sound Foundation" "Seaweed"


  • It would have been useful to see some of the equations.

  • 1:35 - 1:36 Heisenberg and uncertainty for blowing that idea out of the water. :) Love all these videos. The only boring part is waiting for the next one to load., Viva la Ve

  • Hey, so that's not how you say "pendulum"

  • Maybe apply quantum computation to the prediction algorithms and solve for several cases and see what cancelled out?

  • 10:10

  • 8:28

  • its like auroras in polar regions

  • Travis Scott - Butterfly Effect

  • God it's terrifying to think about how severe climate change could be.

  • Sweet like candy cane!🦋

  • Another interesting therom in chaos theory is the sharkovski theorm, period 3 implies chaos.

  • Si pusiste más atención a los subtítulos y al audio que al contenido, te invitamos a que visites nuestro canal en Veritasium en español, la mejor manera acceder a el contenido de Veritasium sin barreras de lenguaje.

  • Sir please make a video demonstrating doppler effect

  • 0:49 Adam....Why did you play eenie meenie minie moe?

  • Sounds like Isaac Asimov's "psychohistory" may be useful to predict the future of humanity, after all: 11:23 "So you can't predict how any individual state will evolve but you can say how a collection of states evolves."

  • He always looks so baked. I know he probably vapes or dabs but I get this feeling he likes to hit a big ass bong. Love the chaos video.

  • I remember I made an entire scription+presentation on Chaos theory in senior year of high school, based on information I could get from the internet. Wikipedia was still in its infancy back then. IT-tvs consisted mostly of football players getting kicked in the groin... Amazing what content can be found know. This entire video contains pretty much the entirety of info that I presented, but done much more consisely and elegantly. It's truly a great time to be alive in an era where content like this is made and watched by millions. Thank you so much! And by the way: Lastpass is great, up until the point you go to a closed-book college exam and you have to log in with a previously made account on the classroom pc... Luckily the teacher was accomodating and he let me check the password on my phone. Technology is weird.

  • Life is Strange!

  • Is there only butterfly effect not hyena or something else effect? What would happen if a hyena in the past ends his life by jumping off a cliff? Earth would get destroyed by gamma-ray burst in present if a hyena commits suicide in the past.

  • "Oh the memes..." Waiting for a video on this.

  • All of your decisions in life and mine has lead to the point of you reading this comment. And nature wants to say you can achieve anything by trying enough.

  • That means the chaos is the reason of our existence or you can say that we can stand due to chaos

  • That means the chaos is the reason of our existence or you can say that we can stand due to chaos

  • Great video and animations.

  • video on how insignificant things can cause large scale affects Veritasium : "That's on the scale of atoms, pretty insignificant on the scale of people,"

  • Subhanallah!

  • We can predict the future to some extent by analysing alot of data in the past. Let say, by analysing past 2000 days data we can predict the data of next 5 days or little more. Because unknown variables keep on adding.

  • "Prediction is tricky, especially when it's about the future.: Yogi Berra

  • Soooo... you can't predict the future of the planet, so climate change is a myth?

    • how does that have anything to do with climate change, exactly?

  • You know whats more dangerous?? Giving all your pws to the company which failed to protect them multiple times.. NEVER EVER store your passwords in any unified cloud based systems.. They have access to the code base and database thus able to reveal your passwords.. and once they got hacked (which happend) same power was granted to the attackers as well.. Instead use offline apps with external cloud storage like keepass (app itself is separate from the storage where your passwords are kept). Keepas has been standard for almost 2 decades and is completely free and open source so the community can "monitor" if the app does or does not behave suspicious. I once build myself an online password manager and trust me, developers can always find a way to see them..

  • Look 7:15, isn't it making a shape of butterfly as well

  • I would say the bigger question the butterfly effect brings up isn't how well you can predict the future, but do we have an effect on the future at all

  • I have experienced the butterfly effect myself. Because of a minor slip up in the answer to a question, I ended up being sent to Korea instead of some other duty station. That 2 year experience definitely shaped my decisions since then. All the people I met and things I did there are obviously very different from if I went to say, Kansas. My WHOLE life is different because I added an extra word to an answer by accident.

  • idk iv got a list of around 200 account creds n it can b a real pain in the ass, but idk about puttin all my creds on some server that technically anybody has access to, yes i understand theres a sleepin security guard somewhere but a computer never gets tired of cracking

  • Infinite curves never crossing. Mind blown. Your vids just get better and better.

  • because the systems were supervised ;D

  • Best science channel ever

  • i love butterflies. Who would have known they could destroy our world.

  • yet climate change is not debatable...

  • I'm wearing my butterfly shirt, which makes male German speakers ejaculate if they see the color blue at midnight. Question: Are the initial conditions of the big bang variable?

  • This was a lot more about rounding errors than it was about interrogating determinism itself.

  • Too bad lasttrash..I mean lastpass has been hacked before..smh

  • Hey doesn't this mean that all the climate change models both pro and con anthropocentric, are pretty unreliable

  • 11:38 - Hey, this part of the video is not sponsored by Apple :P

  • If you say adding the second pendulum makes it totally unpredictable its like saying on a toss of coin "its strange i see a head now "

  • How much he hide, I know his laptop is apple😎

  • I was just looking for Travis Scott’s song and I ended up watching this...

  • ...and as always, thanks for watching.

  • Well explained..... Thanku...🙏

  • Vim pelo serbit

  • Vim pelo Cellbit

  • Now consider the very early universe, and the happenstance chaos that caused the large-scale structure of the universe to form the specific megaclusters, clusters, and galaxies to form the specific way we observe today.

  • I was about to get evicted and this site saved me *FunOnlineWork .c om*

  • I'm surprised nobody has mentioned floating point numbers (decimal), computers have integers and floats. Floats are only predictable to an extend but not very far and when you add floats together the output may not be accurate. Integers are whole numbers and don't have this problem. This is why the financial industry uses integers to represent money, which means you have to store the amount in cents instead. So if anyone tried to build a predictable system, doing it like that guy did you may end up with even more random outcomes than you should otherwise on top of the butterfly effect itself.

  • thanks for the clear explanation.

  • 11:19 this sounds a lot like the concept of "psychohistory", from Asimov's fictional Foundation universe, which says that although the behavior of a single human being is unpredictable, the behavior of the quadrillions that make up the entire gallatic population supposedly can be predicted (great series, BTW!)

  • Hello Derek! Could you please make a video on phosphorescence & florescence? Would love to learn the Veritasium way !

  • Our galaxy only exist in a computer model. As does Mars . Only exist in a computer.

  • I have watched several IT-tvs video recently about chaos theory introduction. Only yours is interesting enough and visualising enough to satisfaction for a non-math person. So cool. Looking forward to the next video showing how fracture presents in chaos.

  • The fact that chaos has predictable trends is how I make money in real estate and trading stocks, commodities and crypto-tokens. And all the ideas I use I learned for free on the internet.