Ads via The Deck
Snowflakes. Credit: Nick Ford.

Life is like an eddy in the flow of chaos, according to scientists.

Jeremy England, an MIT physicist, studies the idea that life exists as an emergent property of thermodynamics.

From a Nautilus profile: "Somehow, from the churning of blind gears, something like purpose emerges. The pieces, individually obeying nothing more than the basic laws of physics, collectively accrue function."

Thirty years ago, Nobel-winning Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine held a similar view. .


There is nothing chaotic about gravity.

There's an ongoing debate about whether gravity itself is an emergent—rather than fundamental—force in the universe.

The theory, which supposes energy arranges itself so as to maximize entropy, seems to have been disproven last year by experimental data, a few years after being feted as the next big thing.


Creatures, cities, and storms self-organize, with low-level rules giving rise to higher-level sophistication. Entirely new properties and behaviors “emerge,” with no one directing and no one able to foresee the new characteristics from knowledge of the constituents alone. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Learn to spot emergence with 10 examples from NOVA.
↩︎ PBS
More from TMN