The further into the future, a weather forecast is made, the less reliable it becomes due to the “butterfly effect.” This principle, in which small variations in initial conditions can lead to vastly different outcomes, makes weather patterns unpredictable.

The butterfly effect can be observed in various systems, such as weather, labor markets, and brain dynamics. Researchers from the University of Calabria have now used 3D printing to turn the complex and dynamic structures behind this science into unique jewelry, as reported in the journal Chaos, published by AIP Publishing.

The jewelry forms are based on the Chua circuit, which was the first physical, mathematical, and experimental demonstration of chaos. Chua’s circuit creates oscillations that never recur, as opposed to an ordinary circuit, which produces an oscillating current.

“These chaotic configurations, called strange attractors, are complex structures that had never been observed before,” explains author Eleonora Bilotta. “The depictions of such structures are strikingly beautiful, continually shifting when the point of view is changing. Jewelry seemed to be the best way to interpret the beauty of chaotic shapes.”

The team first attempted to use goldsmiths to make prototypes of the twisted, arcing designs. However, the chaotic shapes were too difficult to create using typical methods.

Alternatively, additive printing may provide the required structure and intricacy. The group 3D-printed the jewelry to make a counter-mold that the jeweler could use to cast the final piece.

“Seeing the chaotic shapes transformed into real, polished, shiny, physical jewelry was a great pleasure for the whole team. Touching and wearing them was also extremely exciting,” adds Bilotta. “We think it is the same joy that a scientist feels when her theory takes form, or when an artist finishes a painting.”

The jewelry created using this method not only serves as a unique and artistic piece but also as an educational tool for students to learn about the science behind chaos and how initial conditions affect the outcome.

Using Chua’s circuit, students can manipulate chaos and see the sensitivity of initial conditions. The design process also allows them to personalize the jewelry by adjusting parameters to generate different shapes.

The researchers plan to explore the use of spheres instead of lines to represent chaos and are working on creating an exhibition of chaotic patterns that can be adapted for international museums.

Source: 10.1063/5.0130029

Image Credit: Francesca Bertacchini, Pietro S. Pantano, Eleonora Bilotta

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