Josh Kastorf’s new film, “Weather and Chaos: The Work of Edward N. Lorenz” is the first film about Lorenz and his research into chaos theory that’s been produced with the participation of scientists who worked alongside him. With their help the film takes a closer look at what the “butterfly effect” actually meant in the context of Lorenz’s work, and why it should make all of us rethink our understanding of our universe.
I generated some of the key musical ideas for the film’s score using chaos math and theory, in some cases matching the visualizations Josh created for the film. You can read more about that here.
Why is it that we can predict a solar eclipse centuries in advance, but we can only predict the weather about a week or two in advance? Can a small-scale movement, like the flap of a butterfly’s wing, influence large-scale systems like hurricanes? In the 1960s, an MIT meteorologist exploring these questions with the help of early digital computers made a discovery that would change the way we understand not only weather but nearly everything in our universe. His work suggested there are certain systems we may never be able to predict, not because they are too complex, but because “chaos” is built into their underlying math. Years later, this idea would enter popular culture as “the butterfly effect.”