A scale devised by the eminent mathematician Lewis Fry Richardson to assign a magnitude to events such as wars. A magnitude on this scale is the base-10 logarithm of the number of deaths. World Wars I and II were magnitude 7 events.
Richardson was a member of the Society of Friends, and served as an ambulance driver in France during World War I. His early work, specifically Weather Prediction by Numerical Process (1922), founded the science of meteorology. When he learned his ideas were being used to estimate the area over which a released poison gas would be effective, he abandoned the subject and destroyed his unpublished papers. He went on to study the statistics of war.
Lewis Fry Richardson.
Statistics of Deadly Quarrels.
Edited by Quincy Wright and Carl C. Lienau.
Pittsburgh: Boxwood Press, 1960.
For an account not purely mathematical of Richardson and his
work, see Chapter 8, A Quaker mathematician, in
T. W. Körner.
The Pleasures of Counting.
Cambridge University Press, 1996.
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Last revised: 14 November 2011.