Jurassic Park and Chaos Theory

Image: Inga Seliverstova
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By VANDERLEI TENÓRIO*

The idea of ​​recreating dinosaurs or extinct species brings with it a series of ethical dilemmas, in addition to the potential to unleash real chaos.

First described by French mathematician and astronomer Henri Poincaré, Chaos Theory postulates that a tiny and seemingly insignificant event or circumstance can trigger a significant effect on the future evolution of a large and complex system. The best-known example of this concept is the so-called “Butterfly Effect,” which is often attributed to the 1952 story written by science fiction author Ray Bradbury, entitled A sound of thunder.

In this narrative, a man travels back in time to the distant past for the purpose of hunting a Tyrannosaurus rex and accidentally steps on a butterfly. Upon returning to the present, he discovers that this seemingly trivial act has drastically altered the course of history, and not in a good way.

With this in mind, in the article “Understand chaos theory and the butterfly effect, which help explain the Universe” da BBC News World, Carlos Serrano points out that Chaos Theory presented a significant challenge to classical physics, which is based on the principles established by Isaac Newton.

According to these principles, if the initial conditions of a system are known, it is possible to predict the future behavior of that system with some ease. In other words, Newton's laws are deterministic and allow the prediction of the movement of planets or the trajectory of a bullet, for example.

Serrano also points out that Chaos Theory warns that even small variations in initial conditions will make predictions impossible as time progresses. In principle, Newton's laws state that, with perfect data, it is possible to make accurate predictions. However, in practice, theory teaches us that, due to the impossibility of obtaining perfect data, forecasts become unfeasible at some point.

Against this backdrop, researchers Djeferson Pereira de Sousa, Julio Klafke and Ailton Marcos Bassini. CienTec-USP, detail that “Chaos Theory” is a scientific study of extreme importance today. This theory is applied in practically all areas of human knowledge, from the exact sciences to the human sciences. Again, the core idea behind the theory is that a small change early in an event can have huge, unknown consequences over time.

To illustrate this, we can think of the following situation: the father of a child misses the deadline to enroll his child in school “A” because his car was missing a part. On the surface, this doesn't seem like a big problem, as the father resolves the situation by enrolling his son in a school in another neighborhood.

However, this decision means that the child has completely different friends than he would have at school “A”, has other teachers who will directly influence his learning process and, possibly, develop other interests. In short, the child's life will be completely different due to a small car part.

In this respect, structurally, it represents a central theme in the films of the franchise. Jurassic Park , which in turn explore the idea that human beings should not assume the role of God, nor try to dominate nature, understanding that every action has a reaction, in accordance with the Newton's third law. As mathematician Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, would say: "Life, uh, always finds a way."

Such a theory is recurrent in speculative science fiction, especially in disaster or thriller stories. In view of this, in the films of the franchise Jurassic Park e Jurassic World, powerful and corrupt corporations hire renowned scientists to bring dinosaurs back to life for fun and profit, no matter how it might affect the current life balance.

So much so that, in each film, dinosaurs wreak havoc on CEOs and scientists who dare try to control them. For example, in the first movie of Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs escape and cause deaths in the park. Already in the second movie The lost World, hunters and mercenaries try to capture the dinosaurs and take them to the mainland, resulting in disastrous consequences.

However, the sequel films Jurassic World explore this theory further. Breaking it down better, the first film shows a fully functioning park that collapses when they try to genetically create a “super dinosaur” called Indominous Rex.

Yes, Fallen Kingdom, features an illegal auction of dinosaurs that ends in death for most of those involved. Dodgson's ByoSin facility is destroyed (and Dodson himself is killed by Dilophosaurs), while Domain involves genetically altering grasshoppers to establish a monopoly on the food chain.

In this context, in the article “Chaos theory: order in nonlinearity”, mathematicians Franciele Fey and Jarbas André da Rosa contextualize that Chaos puts our greatest certainties in doubt and makes us question our own reality. Modern society has an obsession with predicting, controlling and manipulating everything around it.

However, the chaotic and non-linear systems present in nature, in society and in our own lives are beyond our domain. A small change at the beginning of an event can have huge and totally unknown consequences in the future, which can be explained with Domain, the last film in the franchise.

In summary, the idea of ​​recreating dinosaurs or extinct species brings with it a series of ethical dilemmas, in addition to the potential to trigger real chaos with unpredictable consequences, as an effect of Chaos Theory.

The attempt to resurrect dinosaurs faces numerous scientific and ethical obstacles, as highlighted by Susie Maidment, a dinosaur researcher at the London Museum of Natural History. Display them in zoos or theme parks, as in Jurassic World, is certainly not a suitable solution. So, for now, it's best to leave dinosaurs "safe" in the past.

However, according to the expert, in specific circumstances, it can be argued that genetic engineering to bring back extinct animals is a plausible possibility. Finally, to conclude, I turn to Dr. Malcolm: "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

*Vanderlei Tenorio, journalist and professor, he graduated in geography from the Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL).


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