• Academy Events

  • Complexity: A Science of the Future?

    Monday, May 9, 2016 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    The New York Academy of Sciences

    Presented by The New York Academy of Sciences

      • Registration Closed

    An archived recording of this event is available via Livestream under "Archived Events" at:

    A podcast of this event is available for download here.

    Early discoveries in physics were driven primarily by observation, by searching for an explanation for what can be seen. In the 20th century, revolutionary advances in theoretical physics often anticipated—sometimes by decades—the experimental verifications of the existence of elementary particles of crucial importance to particle physics, such as the neutrino and Higgs boson. In recent years, the advent of sophisticated computer technology has allowed studies of complex systems, in which large collections of components interact in nonlinear ways, such as cell colonies, neurons in the brain, the immune system, economic markets, and social groups. In complex systems, simple, nonlinear interactions are iterated over time and give rise to self-organization, evolution, learning, and adaptation—phenomena that eluded explanation until now, or as the physicist Phil Anderson stated, "More is different." This panel, including selected physicists and mathematicians, will explore whether studies of complexity complement traditional physics or may upend science as we know it.

    * Reception to follow.

    Featured Speakers

    Bernard Chazelle, PhD

    Author of The Discrepancy Method: Randomness and Complexity; Professor of Computer Science, Princeton University

    Marcelo Gleiser, PhD

    Author of A Tear at the Edge of Creation; Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth College

    Michael Strevens, PhD

    Author of Bigger than Chaos; Professor of Philosophy at New York University

    Geoffrey West, PhD

    Distinguished Professor and Past President, Santa Fe Institute


    George Musser, PhD

    Contributing Editor at Scientific American; author of Spooky Action at a Distance and The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory

    Registration — Individual Lecture Prices

    Member $5
    Member (Student / Postdoc / Resident / Fellow) $5
    Nonmember $15
    Nonmember (Student / Postdoc / Resident / Fellow) $7

    Presented by

    The New York Academy of Sciences

    Grant Support

    This program is made possible by the generous support of:

    John Templeton Foundation

    The event is part of the Physics of Everything series.

    This six-part series will unite some of the most vibrant public intellectuals and communicators of today—from scientists to philosophers, and ethicists to educators—for explorations that reflect on the current state of modern physical sciences.

    To learn more about each lecture and to purchase tickets, click on the links below.

    Contact Us

    Jennifer Costley, PhD

    Director, Physical Sciences, Sustainability & Engineering