Buys Ballot Medal awarded to founder of chaos theory
21 april 2004
The American meteorologist Edward Norton Lorenz has been awarded the Buys Ballot Medal by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Mr Lorenz will be presented with his medal on Wednesday 12 May at the headquarters of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) in De Bilt, the Netherlands.
The Royal Netherlands Academy is awarding the medal to Lorenz for his contribution to the science of weather and climate forecasting.
Lorenz, the founder of chaos theory, discovered that a small disturbance of the atmosphere in one location can have major consequences for the weather in another. In his own famous example, the 'Butterfly Effect', he described how the beating of a butterfly's wings in China can unleash a tornado in America. Chaos theory has had an important impact on the method currently used by meteorologists to forecast the weather over several days and is now used on a daily basis to draw up medium to long term forecasts. It has influenced not only meteorology, but also biology, medicine and even the social sciences.
Edward Norton Lorenz (1917) started out as a mathematician. His career in meteorology began during the Second World War, when he became a weather forecaster for the U.S. Army Air Corps. He went on to study meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he took his Ph.D. and was appointed a professor. Lorenz retired in 1987 but has continued to study the atmosphere.
The Buys Ballot Medal is the oldest meteorological distinction in the world. It was instituted in 1888 in honour of the famous Dutch meteorologist C.H.D. Buys Ballot (1817-1890), who founded the KNMI and was a member of the Royal Academy. The Academy has awarded the medal once every decade since 1893 to a researcher who has made an outstanding contribution to the science of meteorology. Edward Norton Lorenz is the twelfth recipient of the Buys Ballot Medal.
The award ceremony will be held in the Buys Ballot Hall at KNMI headquarters as part of the celebrations marking the meteorological institute's 150th anniversary. The KNMI intends to organise a symposium on the same day devoted to Lorenz's work. The press will have an opportunity to talk to Edward Lorenz prior to the start of the symposium, from 11 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. For more information, please contact the KNMI's press office at +31 30 2206 317/386, +31 6 53 214364, e-mail email@example.com, or the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Communications Department, tel. +31 20 5510 733/769, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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