Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A satisfying definition of emergence (at least, for me)

Building a bit off of yesterday's blog topic concerning biology, mathematics, and complexity, I wanted to note a satisfying and simple explanation of emergent phenomena in P. W. Anderson's "Physics: The Opening to Complexity."

To paraphrase, emergent phenomena are not logical consequences of underlying physical laws. In other words, one can't deduce the behavior of, say, monarch butterflies from the laws of quantum electrodynamics. However, emergent behavior cannot contradict the physical laws upon which they are built.