Edward Lorenz Dies

I suppose not many know who Edward Lorenz is, he wrote computer programs to try and predict the weather, and in 1972 published a paper titled “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” Does it? The answer to this now famous question is perhaps. Lorenz is credited as one of the discoverers of chaos theory, his findings proving the uncomfortable notion that due to the potentially large effects of very small things, nothing at all is entirely predictable. I suppose most of us already felt the power of unpredictable things to hit us upside the head at any time, it took science until the 1970’s to do so. Still, Lorenz is a man who can be said to have ended one way of thinking (where we thought one day we’d have everything figured out, and the future mapped out bright before us), and ushered in another (where we are continually figuring out that we haven’t really figured anything out at all). He was out hiking 2 weeks before his death on Wednesday, which leads me to believe it was not indeed predicted, and I’m glad of that. It reads as though he had a happy and full life, and I have a strange admiration for scientists who grapple with the fundamentals of our reality.

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