Picture a chaotic scene. I’d assume that probably eight out of ten of you just thought of something that had fire in it. A scene like 9-11 or maybe even a hellish scene, regardless, fire is included. To me, this is ironic. Fire is such a simple thing in chemistry. The formula for combustion is: some carbon fuel + O2 –> CO2 + H2O. Reactants and products, inputs and outputs. However, when you put fire into a situation, it automatically turns chaotic and people panic. A sleeping, peaceful family? Throw some fire into the mix, and everyone is crying, panicing and you have a scene set for a tragedy. The scene below shows how quickly fire can change things. One moment, a barn is standing, the next, the hay, manure, and finally the wooden frame of the barn are engulfed in flame.


I find it so strange that this simple chemical equation can cause such devastation. If you think about it, many chaotic situations are the exact same way. A stampede of animals, a tornado, a tsunami, all relatively simple things to understand, yet they cause so much devastation. To me, I would think it would be the opposite way. Until I thought about it more, it made sense that chaotic situations would come from complicated chemical reactions or engineering. The reason I think this is is that these simple things are out of our control. We cannot control when fires start, or natural disasters happen. We can do our best to prevent fires, but even trying our best wont stop them all. Chaos is so simple, but it invokes such devastation.

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  1. I don’t think that carbon fuel + O2 –> CO2 + H2O is so simple! I don’t think that any of the examples you have provided are simple, either. We do not yet understand the science of the stampede of animals, a tornado, or a tsunami. Nature fools us every time!


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