Born half a century ago, chaos theory languished for years

By Tom Siegfried, 12:44 PM September 16, 2013

Predicting the impact of a scientific discovery is a lot like predicting the weather. You never know what obscure paper in the scientific literature (or small disturbance in the atmosphere) will eventually produce a deluge of new research (or rain).

One such paper appeared 50 years ago in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. Its title, “Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow,” did not excite anybody. And its author, Edward Lorenz, was shy and not predisposed to seeking publicity. But in the decade...

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