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Edward Lorenz

AKA Edward Norton Lorenz

Born: 23-May-1917
Birthplace: West Hartford, CT
Died: 16-Apr-2008
Location of death: Cambridge, MA
Cause of death: Cancer - unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist, Mathematician

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Chaos theory

Military service: US Army Air Corps (1942-44)

In 1972, American meteorologist Edward Lorenz ran what he thought was exactly the same data through a computer program twice for double-checking, but to his surprise repeating the process led to two vastly different conclusions. Upon close re-examination he found a difference amounting to less than 1/10,000th of one percent in one aspect of the raw data, but that difference had reverberated to great consequences through the calculations. From this he wrote a seminal paper explaining what he called the butterfly effect, the phenomenon whereby the slightest change at any point in a complex system can cause unexpectedly large effects elsewhere.

He also studied deterministic non-periodic flow, and discovered what is now called the Lorenz attraction, a method for examining the changing relationships in fluid flow in a system with three degrees of freedom which shows that the flow is chaotic, unpredictable, and never follows the same path twice.

Wife: Jane Logan Lorentz (d. 2001)
Daughter: Cheryl Lorenz
Son: Edward Lorenz
Daughter: Nancy Lorenz

    University: BS Mathematics, Dartmouth College (1940)
    University: MS Mathematics, Harvard University (1941)
    University: MS Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1943)
    University: DSc Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1948)
    Teacher: Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1946-62)
    Professor: Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1962-87)

    Kyoto Prize 1991
    American Meteorological Society
    National Academy of Sciences 1975

Author of books:
The Nature and Theory of the General Circulation of the Atmosphere (1967)
The Essence of Chaos (1993)


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