Edward Lorenz and the Chaotic Butterflies

By Robert Black

$15.00

Class sets 10 or more print books: $12.00 each
Order code: 7857S

Tiny changes in a system dramatically affecting the course of much larger events—what we know of as “the Butterfly Effect”—was demonstrated in 1960 by a mathematician and meteorologist named Edward Lorenz. It was an accidental discovery, but like the concept itself, it led to something much larger—something that has been called one of the twentieth century’s great revolutions in the physical sciences: chaos theory.

Description

Most people have heard of the Butterfly Effect, although not everyone fully understands the concept behind the now-famous quote about a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil and subsequently setting off a tornado in Texas. Tiny changes in a system dramatically affecting the course of much larger events was demonstrated by a mathematician and meteorologist named Edward Lorenz. It was an accidental discovery, but like the concept itself, it led to something much larger—something that has been called one of the twentieth century’s great revolutions in the physical sciences: chaos theory.

Lorenz began his career working for the U.S. military during World War II as part of the effort to forecast atmospheric conditions for flying bombers so that they could both navigate accurately and hit their intended targets with precision. At the time, scientists, excited by the new technology available in computers and artificial satellites, believed that they were on the brink of being able to forecast the weather well into the future—and perhaps even to control it. Lorenz’s accidental discovery shattered those hopes, but his resulting contributions to both math and science have altered our understanding of the world.

There’s a “Doing the Math” section at the end of the book so that readers can try working out the math themselves!

Details

Series
Mathematical Lives: Biographies of Mathematicians
Ages
10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
Grades
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Subjects
Mathematics, History, Novels
Pages
127
ISBN
978-0-88092-785-7
Order Code
7857

Reviews

“Black…tells his story within a completely developed context. We read about Edward Lorenz, and his childhood days. We read about how he found his way into meteorology, and how his interest in weather modeling was influenced by the Second World War. We learn about other pioneers of weather modeling and how Lorenz built upon their work. And here and there, we get a good number of glimpses into the actual math involved.” – Sprinkles’ Reviews, Book Bunnies Blog (click here to read the full review)