April 30, 2004
Forget butterfly wings - watch out for gerbils! The old adage about a butterlfly's wings in China creating a hurricane in America seeks to point out how small effects in nature can blossom and cause large-scale change. In New Scientist today, there is an article about how the gerbil population in Kazakhstan can predict the coming of plague outbreaks. Of course, the gerbil seems to be the main carrier of the disease, so the relationship is indeed sensible. The article is an interesting read, and show the importance of scientific research and data collection. In this particular situation, it looks like we should thank the Soviet scientists who provided the data that helped reach the conclusions in the article.