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Published on Aug 14, 2016
The pendulum oscillates harmonically when displacements from equilibrium are small. Motion turns dramatically chaotic and unpredictable when displacements are large.
"The extreme sensitivity of future behavior to small differences at early times is a characteristic of chaotic systems. This extreme sensitivity also affects predictions. Even if the theoretical model is perfect in every detail, the future behavior of a chaotic system is unpredictable because the starting conditions for the model can never be 100% accurate.
For example, the chaotic nature of weather makes accurate long-term forecast impossible. To predict the future weather, the current conditions are used as input. Any small difference between the true current conditions and those used as input will grow to huge errors in the forecast later on." University of Florida, Department of Physics, demo of Chaotic Pendulum.
Reference: 1. The University of Sydney School of Physics, UniServeScience; 2. Make magazine Volume 22, June 2010.