Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Chaos in Space and Time," by J. P. Gollub and M. C. Cross. Nature, 13 April 2000, pages 710-711.

Although chaotic dynamics arise in many natural phenomena, scientists' understanding of chaos in most systems is limited. This article describes new numerical studies of a model of thermal convection. These studies reveal for the first time the mechanism by which chaotic dynamics is generated. The work shows that the unpredictable motion that arises in this model has its origin in what happens in small regions of space and over short time scales. "Applications to areas as diverse as cardiology and atmospheric dynamics might be expected eventually," the article says.

--- Allyn Jackson