Microscopic universe

The marvelous complexity of an organic being…

Happy International Darwin Day!


The Power of Networks: Complexity, patterns, fractals, and scale | Gaia Marcus • Manuel Lima

Gaia Marcus: Something we’re examining is how people need to understand complexity… We’re taught that A plus B equals C but that’s not actually how that works at the more complex level. And something you touch on… was how order and disorder, or order and complexity are actually two poles of the same phenomena and […]

Collage: Visual Complexity

Although there are important distinctions between the physical processes of the brain and the processing of information within the brain, one key similarity is the role of networks. Even as researchers, designers, and technologists advance our capacity for the conscious understanding of big data, we should remember that we are basically attempting to bring forth into the world that which is already […]

Complex versus emergent: Simplifying emergence

| How do you simplify emergent complexity? | It’s a trick question: The answer is that you don’t. But perhaps making a distinction between emergence and complexity would be helpful in understanding both a little better. Complexity refers to our ability to understand and predict a system. This interpretation reflects both limitations in our scientific […]

Creative metaphors for social change | Arthur Romano

Movement strategist and nonviolence trainer Arthur Romano reflects on 3 creative metaphors for social change – critical mass, critical yeast, and the butterfly effect – drawn from complexity theory and the study of adaptive systems. Critical Mass So when we think about critical mass, we think of that moment after people have been doing work, […]


Conceptual complexity: Understanding how we think about cause and effect

| What cause and effect can teach us about cognition and learning | How we describe the world and the things that happen in it are informed by our understanding of causes, effects, and their relationships. This understanding evolves over time as we learn and grow through experience: things shift from black and white to […]

Language & complexity: Evolution inside out | Terrence Deacon

Drawing on biological anthropology and cognitive science, anthropologist Terrence Deacon explores the interplay of natural selection and adaptation among various environmental, genetic, cognitive, and social factors that could have contributed to the evolution of the human capacity for language.   Reference Language & complexity: Evolution inside out | Terrence Deacon

The evolution of complexity and intelligence on earth

Much of our research on intelligence has started by assuming that humans are special. And I think that’s exactly the wrong place to start if you’re interested in the evolution of intelligence. And if you’re interested in the evolution of intelligence, humans aren’t so much special as different … So the three ingredients of intelligence […]

Finding the simple patterns in a complex world | Michael Barnsley

Professor Michael Barnsley has developed a new way to uncover simple patterns that might underlie apparently complex systems, such as clouds, cracks in materials or the movement of the stockmarket. The method, named fractal Fourier analysis, is based on new branch of mathematics called fractal geometry. The method could help scientists better understand the complicated […]

Simon Levin (Ecology) | The problem of pattern and scale in ecology

It is argued that the problem of pattern and scale is the central problem in ecology, unifying population biology and ecosystems science, and marrying basic and applied ecology. Applied challenges, such as the prediction of the ecological causes and consequences of global climate change, require the interfacing of phenomena that occur on very different scales […]

Everyday examples of emergence | NOVA ScienceNOW

What is the phenomenon known as emergence? Birds, atmospheric disturbances, and city dwellers self-organize, giving rise to flocks, hurricanes, and distinct neighborhoods. Such entirely new properties and behaviors “emerge,” with no one directing and no one able to foresee the new characteristics from knowledge of the constituents alone. In this slide show, see how emergence […]

The power of networks: Knowledge in an age of infinite interconnectedness | Manuel Lima

I’m going to talk today about the power of networks and the challenge of mapping an increasingly complex world. And I’m actually gonna start this talk with trees…This widespread metaphor it’s so so popular because it really expresses a human desire for order, for symmetry, for hierarchy, for simplicity, for balance and unity. Trees are […]

Science and complexity | Warren Weaver

These problems – and a wide range of similar problems in the biological, medical, psychological, economic, and political sciences – are just too complicated to yield to the old nineteenth-century techniques which were so dramatically successful on two-, three-, or four-variable problems of simplicity. These new problems, moreover, cannot be handled with the statistical techniques […]