Friday, October 9, 2009

Chaos in Jurassic Park

I laughed at my husband, when he picked up the Jurassic Park book by Michael Crichton in the library. I did not quite understand the point of reading the book after having seen the movie multiple times and more so, after all these years. The next sunday, he turns to me and says ''Lets watch Jurassic Park'' and watching a good movie again on a sunday afternoon is very easy and so we did. After the movie he said ''The book was better than the movie, even though I enjoyed the movie more after reading the book''. When he, someone who is stingy with compliments (not w.r.t me :D), said that, I was intrigued, so I decided to read the book.

He was right, the book made for a very good read. I completely loved the theories of Ian Malcom (played by Jeff Goldblum, remember ''The Fly'' ?) which was explained so much more in detail than it could be done in a 127 minute movie (never realised the movie was over 2 hrs !) and since I had seen the movie I could imagine him explaining everything written in the book.

What was really interesting about Chaos theory: How the initial conditions manifest themselves in the exponential growth of error (Butterfly effect) and hence the outcome. Consider throwing a ball - depending on the starting position, point of contact, surface, initial force and gained momentum, the ball may end up anywhere and if one can determine how exactly the ball would move, I don't think cricket and many other games will exist. Just like friction, we do need chaos !

Nonlinear systems: Using weather as an example was brilliant. Ever wondered how many times we complain about the weather forecast, blame Murphy's law, curse our luck in this context ? Simple answer: Weather is a nonlinear system and we try to analyse with it our linear equations and laws of Physics and hence the results being right is just a matter of probability.

Concept of fractals: A normal day - wake up, go to work, come home, sleep is a fractal because if you look at it in a few months, or a year, it always looks the same. However you still cannot predict what exactly will happen tomorrow - you may be late or take the day off. This is what makes it difficult to describe a fractal in fundamental mathematics (Euclidean geometry).
I came across this link when I was reading about chaos theory online - very very interesting.

When Malcom says ''Scientists focus on whether they can do something but they never stop to think if they should do something'', I couldn't help but think about Einstein and the atom bomb and his quote "Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.", discussed by Stephen Hawkings in ''A brief history of time''. Although Einstein proposed that the United States should develop its own nuclear bomb, fearing that German scientists would beat them to it, he was publicly warning of the dangers of nuclear war and proposing international control of nuclear weaponry even before the first atomic bomb had been detonated. Unfortunately the former took the front seat.

Some facts I learnt (from the book and otherwise):

Turtles abandon their eggs

When a lion takes over a new pride, it kills all the cubs so that it gets a chance to disseminate only its genes and the females do not spend time rearing cubs from another male.

Lizards and reptiles are cold blooded animals. So a snake will die if he is out on the beach at midday.

Steven Spielberg is making a film - Pirate Latitudes - out of a posthumously published novel by (the late) Michael Crichton.

Crichton was 6 feet 9 inches tall. He was socially awkward but was married 4 times !

And like any other book-movie combo, there were differences in the script but I don't think anyone ever complains about that (except maybe Harry Potter fans!). Although the action in the movie is a lot more enjoyable (seeing a velociraptor is obviously more effective than reading about him..rather her - thanks to Spielberg for that), the book definitely is worth reading.
Hit Counter
Website Hit Counter I had decided to have a counter only after I hit a 1000 views and since it happened last week (as on 14 Dec 2009), now is the time to see some stats :)