Complexity: A Science of the Future?

Early discoveries in physics were driven primarily by observation, by searching for an explanation for what can be seen. In the 20th century, revolutionary advances in theoretical physics often anticipated—sometimes by decades—the experimental verifications of the existence of elementary particles of crucial importance to particle physics, such as the neutrino and Higgs boson. In recent years, the advent of sophisticated computer technology has allowed studies of complex systems, in which large collections of components interact in nonlinear ways, such as cell colonies, neurons in the brain, the immune system, economic markets, and social groups. In complex systems, simple, nonlinear interactions are iterated over time and give rise to self-organization, evolution, learning, and adaptation—phenomena that eluded explanation until now, or as the physicist Phil Anderson stated, "More is different." This panel, including selected physicists and mathematicians, will explore whether studies of complexity complement traditional physics or may upend science as we know it.

* Reception to follow.

Featured Speakers

Bernard Chazelle, PhD
Author of The Discrepancy Method: Randomness and Complexity; Professor of Computer Science, Princeton University

Marcelo Gleiser, PhD
Author of A Tear at the Edge of Creation; Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth College

Michael Strevens
Author of Bigger than Chaos; Professor of Philosophy at New York University

Other speakers to be announced.


George Musser, PhD
Contributing Editor at Scientific American; author of Spooky Action at a Distance and The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory

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