Chaos lurking in the everyday: Matt Dickinson on Chaos Theory
January 16, 2013 1 Comment
Everest climber, adventure film maker and author extraordinaire Matt Dickinson joins us to discuss all things Chaos Theory. Over to Matt . . .
It’s a New Year and the Mayan doomsday scenario was wrong (so far—phew!)
And . . .
And, as if that isn’t enough, in a few days time I’ll be leaving for South America and a climbing expedition to Mt Aconcagua (6959 metres)—the highest peak in the world outside of the Himalaya. I’ve been training like crazy for this demanding climb, which has a reputation as one of the coldest and windiest on the planet.
But that doesn’t mean I went easy on the Christmas Pudding—all climbers know that they should arrive at Base Camp six kilos overweight (it helps your body deal with the cold—ahem, it’s true, honest!)
2012—a great (but Chaotic) year
How many school events did I do last year? Truth is, I lost count. But it could easily be seventy or perhaps even more. Falkirk, Manchester, Dundee, Ipswich, Taunton, Coventry . . . promoting Mortal Chaos and meeting a lot of cool people. It’s all a bit of a blur. Thank goodness for Sicilian Lemon cheesecake and Skinny Lattes at Cafe Neros all over the land; I couldn’t have survived without it!
I spoke to pupils at every type of school—and every age group—but the most frequent question was this:
Is Chaos Theory real? Does the ‘Butterfly Effect’ really exist?
Well they certainly do! You are living proof that the smallest tiny variations in the way something starts can lead to big changes later on. Just as a butterfly flapping its wings in the jungle CAN cause a hurricane to rip through the USA, so are all the vital characteristics that make you YOU caused by miniscule variations in the chemical codes on your DNA.
Small events really do lead to big and unpredictable consequences—you only have to check out a few news websites to find that out for real.
The Seagull/Baguette debacle!
This is a good example of chaos theory at work; the day a baguette dropped by a seagull shut down mankind’s most prestigious science experiment.
How strangely ironic that a tiny piece of bread could cause such mayhem. And who dropped that piece of bread in the first place? I can feel a future Mortal Chaos storyline coming on already!
Deer run horse race
Three wild deer get freaked out by the crowds at a race track and end up running the race! But what would have happened if the horses had been on the track at the same time? And what caused the deer to get so lost?
I love the way the commentator just keeps doing his job.
The dark side of chaos theory
Many people have asked me if it is really possible that big accidents can happen because of small events in nature (as happens in every Mortal Chaos story). The answer to that one is definitely yes, as this tragic chaos event from Africa demonstrates.
Why was the passenger carrying the croc? To sell it? For food? How had it been captured? How did it escape on the plane?
A proposal—just an idea from yours truly
In fact, while we’re about it, why isn’t chaos theory taught as a subject at school? In my opinion that would be a great idea; how many other scientific subjects can embrace biology, mathematics, logic, philosophy and current news stories all at once?
Will we one day see ‘Chaos Theory Studies’ as a GCSE choice?
I certainly hope so—it would be hard to imagine a more intriguing and mind expanding subject!
Matt Dickinson is a writer and film maker with an enduring (and sometimes dangerous) passion for wild places. Trained at the BBC, Matt has filmed many award-winning documentaries for National Geographic television, Discovery Channel and Channel 4.
As a director/cameraman he has worked with some of the world’s top climbers and adventurers, joining them on their expeditions to the Himalayas and beyond. But Matt’s proudest moment was filming on the summit of Mount Everest having successfully scaled the treacherous north face of the world’s highest peak.
He was only the fifth British climber ever to do so, and this experience led to the publication of Matt’s best-selling first book for adults The Death Zone.
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