Edward Lorenz: The Butterfly Man


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Edward Lorenz: The Butterfly Man

  1. 1. Edward Lorenz The Butterfly Man Abhranil Das
  2. 2. Sunrise on 20 Nov 2031: 5:52 AM [1]Weather on 20 Nov 2011: ? [1] : timeanddate.com
  3. 3. Edward Norton Lorenz  Born in Connecticut  Studied Mathematics at Dartmouth and Harvard  Served as a forecaster in the US Army Air Corps from 1942-46  Returned to study meteorology at MIT, published good orthodox papers  Kept thinking about forecasting
  4. 4. The situation in the 1960’s Forecasting isn’t science; it’s guesswork. MIT: Work on problems that have solutions. Don’t trust computers.
  5. 5. “The machine, a Royal McBee, […] broke down every week or so. It hadneither the speed nor the memory to manage a realistic simulation of theearth’s atmosphere and oceans. Yet Lorenz created a toy weather in1960… Every minute the machine marked the passing of a day by printinga row of numbers across a page… Digitized cyclones spun slowly aroundan idealized globe.” - Chaos, James Gleick
  6. 6. Newtonian determinism + the computer:Weather problem solved. Or not.
  7. 7. “One day in the winter of 1961, wanting to examine one sequence at greaterlength, Lorenz took a shortcut. Instead of starting the whole run over, hestarted midway through. To give the machine its initial conditions, he typedthe numbers straight from the earlier printout.“Then he walked down the hall to get away from the noise and drink a cup ofcoffee. When he returned an hour later, he saw something unexpected,something that planted a seed for a new science.”
  8. 8. The Butterfly Effect 0.506127 → 0.506Lorenz had a gut feeling it wasn’t the computer. And that it held true in the real atmosphere.
  9. 9. Lorenz was a meteorologist, and no one thought to look for chaos on page 130of volume 20 of the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences.
  10. 10. ReferencesChaos: the making of a new science James Gleick