EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Edward Lorenz (1917-2008), American meteorologist, mathematician and pioneer of chaos theory. After studying mathematics at Harvard, Lorenz served as a weather forecaster for the US Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war Lorenz decided to continue with meteorology, earning two degrees in the field. In the early 1960s, whilst studying weather patterns by modelling convection in the atmosphere, he discovered that the weather did not always change as predicted. Minute variations in the initial values of the variables would lead to hugely divergent outcomes. For this phenomenon, of sensitivity to initial conditions, he coined the term butterfly effect. This effect is the underlying mechanism of deterministic chaos.
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