Friday, April 18, 2008

Edward N. Lorenz, RIP

Edward N. Lorenz

Edward N. Lorenz, generally regarded as the father of modern Chaos Theory, has passed on to that undiscovered country from whence no traveler returns.


Edward N. Lorenz, 90; scientist developed influential chaos theory
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Edward N. Lorenz, the MIT meteorologist whose efforts to use computers to increase the precision of weather forecasts inadvertently led to the discovery of chaos theory and demonstrated that precise long-range forecasts are impossible, died of cancer Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 90.

Lorenz was perhaps best known for the title of a 1972 paper, "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?" The memorable title pithily summarized the essence of chaos theory -- that very small changes in a system can have very large and unexpected consequences...

Chaos Theory is incredibly useful and quite liberating in a sense - when you know there are limits to predictions it forces you to be flexible and creative. Breaking the mindset of the "Clockwork Universe" was, in my opinion, a very important milestone in the history of ideas.


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