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Obituary
Last Updated: April 18, 2008
Chaos Theory Father Edward Lorenz Dies
By Our Staff Writer

Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist who became the father of the modern field of chaos theory, died on April 17 of cancer in Massachusetts aged 90.

A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Lorenz was the first to recognize what is now referred to as chaotic behavior in the mathematical modeling of weather systems. He found that small differences in a dynamic system, like the weather, "could trigger vast and often unsuspected results".

His studies led him to develop what became known as the "butterfly effect." The term stemmed from his 1972 academic paper "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set off a Tornado in Texas?" According to MIT, Lorenz's early work "marked the beginning of a new field of study that impacted not just the field of mathematics but virtually every branch of science--- biological, physical and social."

"Some scientists have since asserted that the 20th century will be remembered for three scientific revolutions---relativity, quantum mechanics and chaos," a statement released by MIT said. Lorenz was working as a weather forecaster for the US Army Air Corps during World War II when he decided to pursue further study in meteorology.

 


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