About the NCEAS Logo and the Lorenz Attractor

The NCEAS logo is derived from a beautiful strange attractor which arises from a simplified system of equations first studied by MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz. The Lorenz attractor is notable for having chaotic solutions for certain parameter values and initial conditions which, when plotted, resemble a butterfly or figure eight. That this elegant representation of nature can arise from clever computation is a source of inspiration for NCEAS.

NCEAS Logo 1995

NCEAS Logo 2013

Watch a Science video of the Lorenz Attractor equation:
Lorenz Attractor equation
Lorenz attractor


The butterfly itself is also an apt symbol for NCEAS, since the Center is located along a stretch of the California coast that hosts the most renowned Monarch butterfly overwintering site in the western United States.

Fittingly, two NCEAS Informatics products have been named in honor of members of this remarkable insect order:

Monarch, an early workflow prototyping experiment, and
Morpho, metadata and data management software, named for a genus of neotropical butterflies

Especially in this era of global climate change, the problems tackled by NCEAS researchers resonate as much as ever in the immortal words of Lorenz himself: "Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?"