Some scientists suspect that Vincent van Gogh was autistic, and this painting, Starry Night, is one reason. The swirling and stormy skies you see here (as well as in his other paintings) seem to fit the precise mathematical formula for turbulence known as the Kolmogorov scale – which was devised 50 years after the painter’s death.
Autistic individuals are known to naturally grasp such concepts in lieu of verbal and social interactions (which van Gogh was known for lacking). So while it’s hardly written in stone, it’s a possibility. It’s also probable that his psychotic and epileptic episodes, which included hallucinations, allowed him the ability to capture these things naturally.
In fairness, though, there is some dispute of this, and it’s obviously quite difficult to retroactively diagnose someone long after they’ve died. Whether or not he may have had autism, numerous psychiatrists have debated a number of factors that contributed to van Gogh’s erratic behavior, including his existing mental illnesses being further aggravated by absinthe, insomnia, malnutrition, poisons swallowed from his paints, and such. This autism idea is just the latest in a long line of theories, and doesn’t necessarily rule the others out.