The “Butterfly Effect” Man Dies

Undoubtedly you have heard about the “butterfly effect.”

I remember the version of a butterfly in China having some effect on the weather in the United States.

It turns out the countries used by the discover were Brazil and the United States.

Edward N. Lorenz figured out that minute variations in the weather can have big impacts.

According to the Chicago Tribune obituary, written by Kenneth Chang of the New York Times, the meteorologist

“was running simulations of weather using a simple computer model. One day he wanted to repeat one of the simulations for a longer time, but instead of repeating the whole simulation, he started the second run in the middle, typing in numbers from the first run for the initial conditions.

“The computer program was the same, so the weather patterns of the second run should have exactly followed those of the first. Instead, the two weather trajectories quickly diverged on completely separate paths.

“…he realized that he had not entered the initial conditions exactly. The computer stored numbers to an accuracy of six decimal places, like 0.506127, while, to save space, the printout of results shortened the numbers to three decimal places, 0.506. When typing in the new conditions, Mr. Lorenz had entered the rounded-off numbers, and even this small discrepancy, of less than 0.1 percent, completely changed the result.”

In 1972, he presented a paper entitled,

“Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?”

So, what does this have to do with McHenry County?

Nothing, but I’ve got this picture of a butterfly in the phlox growing a couple of summers ago in what used to be a garden and now is totally wide that I want to run again.

Lorenz was 90, the same age my mother would be were she alive.

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The close-up is from the picture on top. Can you pronounce “proboscis?” My son always corrects me and, since he watches “Animal Planet,” he may be right.

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