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Making a Splash; Breaking a Neck: The Development of Complexity in Physical Systems

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 12:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • Duane Physics Room D142

Speaker Name(s): 

Leo Kadanoff

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

University of Chicago
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Condensed Matter Seminar

Event Details & Abstract: 

The fundamental laws of physics are very simple; but the world about us is very complex. Living things are very complex indeed. This complexity has led some thinkers to suggest that living things are not the outcome of physical law but instead the creation of a designer (or Designer).  Here I first examine how complexity is produced naturally in fluids, and then use that as a template to suggest how complexity might be produced more generally. Examples described in detail include splashes, the formation of drops, dynamics of granular materials,  a cellular automaton model for fluid behavior,  turbulence in a fluid heated from below, and a genetic network in bacteria. All these examples display considerable complexity without calling for detailed intervention from outside  the system.