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Emergence in Physics: Life, the Universe and the Nature of Reality

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P. W. Anderson: “The more the elementary particle physicists tell us about the nature of the fundamental laws, the less relevance they seem to have to the very real problems of the rest of sciences, much less to those of society.”

Where does the disconnect come between the cold, hard laws of elementary particles and the richness and beauty of the world we see around us? If we could obtain a theory of everything, would it be of any use? An answer to these questions may lie in the phenomenon of “emergence”. In this talk we will look at how laws “emerge” from complexity, how the term “emergence” is understood (and/or misunderstood) by physicists and by philosophers, and consider what implications this might have for our understanding of the nature of reality.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Physics Society series.

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