How do extraordinarily complex emergent phenomena — like ants assembling themselves into living bridges, or tiny water and air molecules forming into swirling hurricanes — spontaneously arise from systems of much simpler elements? The answer often depends on a transition in the interplay between the elements that resembles a phase change.
Lee Smolin explores the problem of understanding the universe from the perspective of being inside the universe, as well as the need for physicists to know philosophy.
Edward O. Wilson, professor emeritus at Harvard University, is the influential naturalist and evolutionary theorist who introduced the concept of “sociobiology,” as well as one of the world’s leading experts on ants. Here, he explains the relevance of evolved insect behaviors to human nature.
Jennifer Dunne of the Santa Fe Institute explains how reconstructions of food webs in past ecosystems help ecologists understand both the unusual niche of humans and new clues to a more sustainable civilization.
Jennifer Doudna, one of the coinventors of CRISPR technology, discusses how her work on bacterial defenses against viruses helped lead to a discovery with a revolutionary impact on biological research.