Irrelevant Butterfly

End of the line

There was a time in my youth when _ mostly ignorant of quantum physics and immersed in history, science, and Horatio Alger economics _ I believed firmly in determinism. Know the exact place and direction of everything in the universe at any given time and all could be predicted. In fact, time could rerun exactly so all would be the same.

Even learning concepts like fractals and chaos hardly changed that. I read A Sound of Thunder and agreed that killing one butterfly in the deep past might change everything now. Another butterfly flapping wings in China could affect hurricanes on the US East Coast.

But, alas, no. The effects of that ancient butterfly were completely erased by the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. Air puffs in China have about as much effect as the ripples created by throwing a pebble in the ocean. Smaller effects do not culminate in large effects _ they are swamped by them.

So I guess that is a kind of free will, but a tragic sort of free will. It does not much matter that the ant is free to choose to go left or right or stay in one place or turn around. An anteater or rising flood waters will negate most possible outcomes.

Poor butterfly.

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