Edward Norton Lorenz

The American meteorologist Edward Norton Lorenz was awarded the Buys Ballot Medal 2004 by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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.

About the laureate

Edward Norton Lorenz (1917 - 2008 ) 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.