Chaos theory explained

Yes, it’s pretty and it’s moving, innit.  (If you can’t see it moving, click through to a platform that supports animation)

Anyway, this shows a lot of tiny particles moving around.   Soooo … if you were one of these particles, it would be hard to predict where you’d go.

Can you see why?  Nope?  Okay, it’s because each time you approach the crossing, it’s hard to tell whether you’ll go into the left loop or the right one.

But listen. You can predict which way you’ll go: it’s not random.  But to predict it, you need to know your position quite accurately.  And each time you go around, it gets worse.  You’d need to know your position extremely accurately to predict which way you go (left or right) after a dozen round trips.

This effect is called deterministic chaos.  Deterministic chaos happens when something is so sensitive to small changes in conditions that its motion is very hard to predict in practice, even though it’s not actually random.

However, you are right, it is pretty and it’s moving.