Up there with the famous mathematicians
Press release issued: 6 June 2008
In Germany, 2008 marks the year of mathematics, a big event sponsored by the government.
Following questions about John Forbes Nash, made famous through the Hollywood film A beautiful mind; Fermat’s last theorem; and who coined the phrase ‘Eureka’?, comes the last and hardest problem of all.
Hinke Osinga from the University of Bristol chose an unconventional approach to dealing with the Lorenz equations of the mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz. What did she do?
- The mathematician and cello player translated the equations of the father of chaos theory into a symphony that premiered in Cardiff in 2005. However, the music requires some getting used to.
- Ms Osinga, a learned biologist, checked the ‘butterfly effect’, the statement by Lorenz that `a butterfly in the rain forest beating its wing can cause a tornado in Europe’. Specifically, she studied many butterflies in the laboratory, but failed in creating a tornado this way.
- She created giant oil paintings which are supposed to reflect the equations.
- She crocheted a giant hanging mobile that reflects the equations. Because she really liked this blue and black object, she even used it as a Christmas decoration.
If you don't know the answer, why not try the quiz yourself – as long as your German is up to it!