In the 1950s, MIT meteorologist and mathematician Edward Lorenz was among the first to use computers to model the weather. At that time most scientists assumed that with with sufficient computing power, people would be able to model and predict the weather as we predict tides or solar eclipses. But in Lorenz demonstrated a mathematical reality that limits what we can predict: in many complex systems, a small change in initial conditions can lead to an enormous and unexpected change in outcome. Slowly, scientists began to realize the implications of Lorenz's "butterfly effect", but it was not until 1988 that it caught the attention of the general public with the publication of James Gleick's book "Chaos: Making a New Science." Since then scientists in a variety of fields have found chaotic effects in surprising places, including the orbits of the planets in our own solar system. But those who have the deepest understanding of Lorenz's work say that its true impact on science, comparable to that of relativity or quantum mechanics, has yet to be fully appreciated.
I have been independently producing a short documentary on Lorenz, with the support of the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and the Lorenz Center. I recently showed a rough cut of the film at a symposium in honor of Lorenz at MIT. This gave me the opportunity to get feedback both form his family and from top scientists who truly understand his work. This will be the first documentary on chaos theory to ever produced with this kind of expertise behind it. I hope to complete the final version in March, 2018.