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Crochet to help predict weather?

india Updated: Jan 29, 2007 19:46 IST
Highlight Story

Making sense of chaotic weather patterns has just become easier with the help of Crochet, the centuries old craft that takes its name from the French word “Croq”, which means  “Hook”.

A computed version of Crochet, an otherwise relaxing hobby involving needlecraft, is helping researchers to better understand mathematical equations relating to the weather.

According to Dr Hinke Osinga, a University of Bristol mathematician, who will present her research at the Australian and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics meeting in Freemantle this week, weather predictability is possible through the use of the Lorenz system of equations.

Osinga claims that through these equations, small changes in initial conditions have a big effect on the long-term behaviour of the system.

Osinga and colleague Professor Bernd Krauskopf have been working on visualising the Lorenz equations, which is how Osinga ended up with a crochet model, reports the ABC Science online.

According to Osinga, it's difficult to predict where the leaves will flow in relation to the rock, but she adds that the Lorenz equations simplify such a system to predict the path of the leaves.

“You have to wait and see what happens over time to see what path the leaves take,” says Osinga.

She and Krauskopf took a particular set of solutions to the equations, and modelled this on a computer and found it gave a unique complex curved shape, which they called the 'Lorenz manifold', that centred on one point.

While staring at the Lorenz manifold on computer, Osinga realised the way the surface was computed, naturally translated into crochet instructions.

Osinga spent 85 hours crocheting a 3D model that she says really put things in perspective. She says the crocheted 3D model can tells us what kind of weather patterns the Lorenz equations are best at predicting.

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