Fifty years have passed since Edward Lorenz published his discovery of the surprising behavior we now know as chaos. With a simple, three-equation weather model, Lorenz demonstrated that even fully deterministic systems can behave in ways that are intrinsically unpredictable.
In May 2013, a half century after Lorenz’s ground-breaking 1963 paper Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow, the journal Physics Today published a retrospective piece marking Chaos’s 50th birthday and elaborating on the ground breaking work of the MIT meteorologist who revealed deterministic predictability to be an illusion giving birth to a field that still thrives.
The cover—shown above—incorporates a simulation of one of the model’s iconic solutions—the Lorenz attractor—plotted as a trajectory in phase space.
(Download the pdf Chaos at Fifty from Physics Today.)
- Watch Father of Chaos: the life and times of Ed Lorenz on MIT’s Tech TV.
- Visit MIT’s Technology Review to read the February 2011 article “When the Butterfly Effect Took Flight” about his ground-breaking research on chaos.
- Read “Flight of the Butterfly Effect” in the March 2011 MIT Technology Review.
- Explore the Edward N. Lorenz Wikipedia entry for more information.