The three-body problem shows us why we can’t accurately calculate the past

Chaos Theory

Our universe is driven by cause and effect. What happens now leads directly to what happens later. Because of this, many things in the universe are predictable. We can predict when a solar eclipse will occur, or how to launch a rocket that will take a spacecraft to Mars. This also works in reverse. By looking at events now, we can work backward to understand what happened before. We can, for example, look at the motion of galaxies today and know that the cosmos was once in the hot dense state we call the big bang.

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Astronomy Cast Ep. 435: The Butterfly Effect

Small changes can have a big impact. But can a butterfly’s wingbeat in the Amazon really impact the weather halfway across the world? And where do small changes have no impact?
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