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Self-Organization

(2002, NS 121)
Peter Coveney, Ingemar Ernberg, Peter Gärdenfors, Martin Ingvar, Mamoun Muhamammed, Ralf Petterson, John Skår (Coordinator), Gunnar Svensson
August 25-27
Nobel Forum, Stockholm, Sweden
Proceedings: John Skår and Peter Coveney: Self-organization: the quest for the origin and evolution of structure (1993), Philosophical Transactions, The Royal Society, London.

The symposium was organized around 17 specially invited lecturers, all world leaders in their fields, spanning from physics and cosmology to biochemistry, biology, physiology, mathematics and computer science. Also participating in the discussions were some 80 invited participants from many countries.

Self-organization is a growing interdisciplinary field of research about a phenomenon that can be observed in the universe, in nature and in social contexts. Researchers seek explanations by using both experimental, often computer-based approaches and empirical, observational approaches. Mechanisms of self-organization are beginning to be identified and the theoretical foundation is under development. Research on self-organization tries to describe and explain forms, complex patterns and behaviors that arise without an outside organizer. They arise under complex conditions away from equilibrium, on the edge of chaos. One common characteristic of the mechanisms that trigger and create self-organization are the use of simple rules for complex processes.

A large part of the discussion during the symposium dealt with theories and methods in research on self-organization. Both experiments and empirical research are needed, but perhaps above all the development of a platform of knowledge from which it is possible to deal with the complexity that is also the precondition for self-organization. Reductionist approaches were deemed insufficient and a closer association between physics and biology was identified as a future strategy, since both these disciplines study relationships and characteristics in dynamic systems.

The lectures were published in June 2003 by the Royal Society, London, as a special theme issue of Philosophical Transactions.

 

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