Who the hell is Edward Lorenz, you might ask? Jeez, he's just the father of chaos theory, people!
Yes, Lorenz noticed that small changes in a system can lead to wildly divergent results, which is technically called "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" but is usually called "the butterfly effect," because Lorenz predicted that Ashton Kutcher could change the future by changing one small thing in the past
. Wait, didn't he? Oh, I guess not. Lorenz revolutionized meteorology in the 1960s, and his idea of "deterministic chaos" spread to other sciences and became one of the most important new ideas in science. Chaos theory is why those seven-day forecasts on television are complete and utter bullshit. He devised Lorenz attractors
, which I don't understand but which are pretty danged cool-looking:
Lorenz never won a Nobel Prize, because there's no Nobel for meteorology (which screws my sister out of a chance!), but he's still a giant in the scientific community. If you want to learn more about chaos, James Gleick's Chaos: Making a New Science
is a very good and very accessible introduction to the field, even though it's 20 years old.
Lorenz was 90. Must be a nice life, working away at MIT doing things you love.
Labels: Chaos theory, Death, Edward Lorenz