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James O'Brien

To Solve the Biggest Mystery in Physics, Join Two Kinds of Law

It is as if the scientific disciplines are formed in strata, like the geological layers on display in the Grand Canyon.

Moving from one layer to another, we see examples of emergence and reductionism, these two overarching organizing principles of modern science. Zooming out, we see new patterns “emerge” from the complex behavior of individual building blocks. Biochemical reactions give rise to sentient beings. Individual organisms gather into ecosystems. Hundreds of billions of stars come together to make majestic swirls of galaxies. As we reverse and take a microscopic view, we see reductionism at work.

Read more from Robbert Dijkgraaf, Institute Director and Leon Levy Professor, as he explores reductionism, emergence, and the marriage of the two at Quanta.

Date
September 07, 2017