www.whyville.net Oct 31, 2003 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

The Chaotic WhyPox

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I watched in 2002 as the WhWhy-Pox spread through Whyville. I watched as City Hall scrambled and as the citizens of Whyville stepped up and tried to save our town from the disease. For that they deserve recognition, but they were fighting against a cause which was unpredictable. How do I know this? Chaos theory.

Basically, chaos theory explains that small changes, such as a light wind or lighting a match, can cause outcomes that are unpredictable. For example, if you were to stand up and drop a feather onto the floor two times, would it always take the same route to the floor? No. Because subtle changes, as small as they may be, impact the feather in a big way. Perhaps you dropped your hand more quickly and caused a slight gust of wind, or the fluff of the feather moved and caused the feather to bank left. This represents chaos theory.

What I am trying to explain is that the simulator in the CDC is only a simulator that represents what could happen if every citizen did the same things and met the same number of people every day. If someone had an early stage of Why-Pox and didn't realize it, and he missed football practice because he forgot while he was watching his favorite show. He might have saved his teammates from Why-Pox, who saved his parents from Why-Pox as well. Him missing practice made a big difference, although it was a small change. A small change, and unpredictable. Because no graph can decide what a person's favorite TV show is, which caused a chain reaction of events.

So what I am saying is, while you are studying the graphs and charts at the CDC, remember that it isn't enough. Remember to use your brain as well, for it is the most important tool you have.



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