Saturday, February 28, 2004

What caused the tornado
Aditya Rishi

THERE is chaos all around. The Amazon is peaceful as ever, its rainforests resisting the plunder. Many of its wonders have been discovered and named, but not all. The huge fish that leapt out of the water yesterday to catch the prey dangling from a tree is snoozing today. The waterways begin from the Andean peaks to the west and flow down into the Amazon Basin.

As the lioness struggles to drag her prize to safety, the smell of fresh meat travels across the land, but today it doesnít draw the usual wave of scavengers looking for the next taste. Death lurks around in the corners of this huge kingdom locked in with beauty: this is home to an extraordinary variety of plants and animals.

Tiny by any comparison, butterflies are still the giants of this world, its eternal survivors. Imagine a butterfly with the most beautiful, most colourful set of wings you ever saw. The butterfly just flapped its wings; did you see that? Just the kind of sign we needed, to tell us that things had calmed down after the nightlong killing. Just a tiny flip, which you didnít even see and which would never disturb the sleepy air of an Amazon morning.

In Africa: Seen from the safe distance of a satellite, it appears to be a thrilling spectacle, but you have to be in the middle of it to know that Mother Earth is not always a gentle parent. Lorenz, not of Arabia, knows; he has seen it from up close. Ita Tornado."We are tracking it, itís growing bigger. We have never seen anything like it here in Africa. Evacuate the town. Clear the roads, call my wife." "What?" "Forget the last part, just clear the town." "Whatís happening?" "A tornado is coming your way." "A tornado? Impossible. No one saw it building up." "Well, I did, and if you donít clear the town soon, you too will see it. Itís a biggie." "Iíll get everyone out in an hour."

The Governor to the chief of police (after the weatherman hangs up the phone at the other end): "Honest, I didnít see it building up. A tornado? In this part of the world? I wonder what caused it?"

"Thereís only one man who can tell you that." "Who is he?" "Lorenz, not of Arabia." "Whereís he these days?" "Wherever there is chaos." "What is he?" "A mathematician, I believe." "What has mathematics got to do with rough weather? Letís find someone else who can tell us about the origin of this tornado." "I have a better idea, Sir. Letís ask everyone who knows to write in to Mind Games, The Tribune, or" (Help the Governor. The solutions will be carried six weeks from now)