In his book Chaos, James Gleick described the "Butterfly Effect."1 Thirty-five years ago, scientists began realizing how the single flap of a butterfly's wing in China has the potential to start a chain of events in the atmosphere that results in torrential rain in the United States. The "Butterfly Effect" was given a technical name, "sensitive dependence on initial conditions." He pointed out that for centuries, people have been aware of how little things can escalate into big problems, as illustrated by this children's nursery rhyme. For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; For want of a shoe, the horse was lost; For want of a horse, the rider was lost; For want of a rider, the battle was lost; For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost!
I wonder how the rhyme would go if it started:
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