Past Event

The Geometry of Chaos: The Primacy of Doubt

October 12, 2023
10:30 AM - 11:45 AM
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The Forum: 605 W. 125th St.

Join Columbia Climate School at The Forum a talk with University of Oxford professor and author Tim Palmer, a pioneer in the development of operational ensemble weather and climate forecasting, on how the science of uncertainty can help predict our chaotic world.

In his talk, Palmer will argue that Chaos Theory should be considered the third great theory of twentieth-century physics, alongside Quantum Theory and Relativity Theory.

Why? Because Chaos Theory and fractal geometry encode the instabilities that characterize the occasional breakdown in predictability of many nonlinear systems: from the weather and the motion of planets to the global economy and our health. He will discuss the development of practical prediction tools that enable some uncertainties in these nonlinear systems to be forecast, and show how this is transforming the way in which humanitarian agencies provide relief to societies at risk of natural disasters.

Palmer also suggests how the geometry of chaos provides a new way to explain one of the deepest mysteries of quantum physics – its apparent nonlocality. He concludes that such nonlocality does not imply “spooky action at a distance”, but instead signals that our fundamental laws of physics must – like the geometry of chaos – be profoundly holistic. 

Tim Palmer, FRS, CBE is a Royal Society Research Professor in the department of physics at the University of Oxford. He pioneered the development of operational ensemble weather and climate forecasting, and in 2007, he was formally recognized as having contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Nobel Peace Prize. Palmer is a Commander of the British Empire, a fellow of the Royal Society and the National Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Institute of Physics’ Dirac Gold Medal. 

His book, The Primacy of Doubt: From Quantum Physics to Climate Change, How the Science of Uncertainty Can Help Us Understand Our Chaotic World, was published by Oxford University Press in 2022.

Event Contact Information:
Pamela Vreeland
[email protected]