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Prophet of Chaos

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)
Description: "'...it may happen that small differences in the initial conditions produce very great ones in the final phenomena. A small error in the former will produce an enormous error in the latter. Prediction becomes impossible, and we have the fortuitous phenomenon.' The French mathematician Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) made this observation in his 1908 essay 'Science and Method.' His route to that remarkable insight, which so aptly encapsulates a key feature of nonlinear dynamics (or what many people call, more loosely, "chaos" theory), was not a simple, direct path, however. Indeed, the triggering event was an embarrassing error, which precipitated a scandal of regal proportions..."

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Chaos, Nonlinear Dynamics, History and Biography, Astronomy

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