Who are you – butterfly or tornado?

In 1963, Edward Lorenz was a meteorologist, a mathematician, and a recognized father of Chaos Theory. The scientific definition of “chaos” is when the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.

Chaos Theory, which was of Lorenz’ invention, seeks to articulate the mathematical relationship of the approximate present to the approximate future.

A classic Chaos Theory predictive exercise is around the throwing of dice. Every time you throw the dice, there will be a different outcome. Chaos Theory seeks to measure and analyze the different conditions under which a different outcome for dice-throwing takes place.

Even if a person stands in exactly the same spot and thinks they’re throwing the dice in exactly the same way, with exactly the same hand position, arm position, force, they can never get the same outcome. They always come up with different numbers.

Chaos Theory contemplates the fact that there are minute small changes – even ones we cannot see and detect – that determine multiple outcomes.

Dr. Lorenz introduced a new mathematical model that has forever changed the way we look at everything, from climate science, to social science, to quantum mechanics.

The scientific foundation of this new model was articulated in a revolutionary academic paper that Lorenz entitled Deterministic Non-Periodic Flow.

The mathematical foundation of the new model was a system of underlying equations called The Lorenz Attractor, which he developed to analyze and plot the possible future impact of minute changes to conditions in the present. Lorenz invented a method to plot how the approximate present might impact the approximate future.

By 1972, Lorenz had further developed his chaos base mathematical system and presented an even more famous academic paper to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This paper was entitled Does The Flap Of A Butterfly’s Wings In Brazil Set Off A Tornado In Texas?

Lorenz proposed that the tiny atmospheric changes caused by a single butterfly flapping its wings could prompt a chain-reaction of multiple and exponential atmospheric changes, that taken together, could ultimately determine the creation and position of a major tornado event.

In this historic academic paper, Lorenz illustrated the possible implications of what became known as The Butterfly Effect.

In this episode of The Question podcast, you will hear highlights from Frederick Tamagi’s presentation on “Butterfly or Tornado”, as well as the music of Hello Moth.