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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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II. Planetary Prodigy: A Global Sapiensphere Learns by Her/His Own Self

1. International Conferences

Planet under Pressure. www.planetunderpressure2012.net/index.asp. “New Knowledge towards Solutions” is the subtitle of this four day international gathering held in London, March 2012. Daily topics are State of the Planet; Options and Opportunities; Challenges to Progress; and Planetary Stewardship. Click on Conference Programme, then individual sessions to reach presentation Abstracts. For a sample, “Biosphere-Climate Interactions: Quantify the Current State of Land-Atmosphere Interactions” by Swiss scientists, and “World Café – Whole-Systems Solutions for Sustainable Development” convened by University of Colorado environmentalist James Syvitski, give a sense of their breadth and depth. But the well-intentioned enterprise goes forth without a guiding 21st century earthwide philosophical context and purpose, while sovereign nations play nuclear standoff.

Quantifying Collective Behavior in Living Systems II. santafe.edu/events/quantifying-collective-behavior-living-systems-ii. A September 2017 working group conference at the Santa Fe Institute led by Jessica Flack, Bryan Daniels and Manfred Laubichler. See their personal pages on the SFI site for more. A companion August meeting is The Future of Computational Social Science, see note below.

In general, function in biological and social systems emerges from interacting components, with the number of components ranging from tens (animal social groups) to hundreds or thousands (human groups) to millions (neural systems). Examples include power structures supporting conflict management in monkey and ape societies, evasive movements of fish schools that foil predators, collaborating groups of scientists producing innovation, or coordinated social action guiding the course of human history. We aim to formulate "principles of collectivity" by observing and quantifying how aggregate behavior operates in existing biosocial systems. Across a range of systems—genes, neurons, animal groups, scientific literature, societies—we describe elementary collective properties that contribute to producing adaptive aggregate behavior. (Summary)

At this meeting we will survey the contributions, methods, and ideas of core SFI researchers (and a few external folks) in the fields of computational social science writ large. These will include genetic algorithms, rule-based systems, agent-based systems, circuit-based formalisms, game theoretic frameworks, decision-making models, social networks, and collective behavior/computation. We will produce a collection of provocative manifestos to serve as counterfactual research agendas for the future of computational social science that propose how it might overcome the data, rigour, and theoretical challenges it currently faces. (CSS summary)

Re-Conceptualizing the Origin of Life. carnegiescience.edu/events/lectures/re-conceptualizing-origin-life. A November 2015 event to be held at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Baltimore. Sara Imari Walker, as chairperson, is joined by co-organizers Chris Adami, Lee Cronin, Douglas Erwin, Piet Hut, Nathaniel Virgo, and others. The list of twenty-five speakers includes main players such as Robert Hazen, Nigel Goldenfeld, Laurie Barge, Simon DeDeo, Jessica Flack, Manfred Laubichler, and Tetsuya Yomo. Some early papers are Life as a State of Matter by Lee Cronin, and A Unified View of Emergence and Evolution by Douglas Erwin.

Physics and chemistry have arrived at a deep understanding of the non-living world. Can we expect to reach similar insights, integrating concepts and quantitative explanation, in biology? Life at its origin should be particularly amenable to discovery of scientific laws governing biology, since it marks the point of departure from a predictable physical/chemical world to the novel and history-dependent living world. The origin of life problem is difficult because even the simplest living cell is highly evolved from the first steps toward life, of which little direct evidence remains. The conference aims to explore ways to build a deeper understanding of the nature of biology, by modeling the origins of life on a sufficiently abstract level, starting from prebiotic conditions on Earth and possibly on other planets. The conference will examine the origin of life as part of a larger concern with the origins of organization, including major transitions in the living state and structure formation in complex systems science.

Schrodinger at 75 – The Future of Biology. www.tcd.ie/biosciences/whatislife. A September 2018 conference on the occasion of the Austrian-Irish Nobel physicist’s 1943 epic book What Is Life?. It is sponsored by Trinity College Dublin and held in the National Concert Hall. As Philip Ball cites in a retro-review in Nature (560/548, 2018), the work was a prescient “code-script” proposal (akin to Alan Turing) which initiated a long transition from physics and biogenetics being worlds apart to their current, active 2010s (re)unification. A stellar array of speakers includes Danielle Bassett, Leroy Hood, Christof Koch, Michael Gazzaniga, Linda Partridge, Nick Lane, and Svante Paabo.

, . Search for Life: From Early Earth to Exoplanets. www.rencontresduvietnam.org/conferences/2016/search-for-life. An IAU, Planetary Sciences and Astrobiology conference to be held in Quy Nhon, Vietnam, on the South China Sea, in December 2016. The site lists a gamut of frontier topics such as solar system and planetary formations, relative habitability, prebiotic chemistry, life’s emergence, along with philosophical aspects. Speakers include Harve Cottin on Comets and Astrobiology after Rosetta, Francois Forget on Planetary Climates, and Charles Lineweaver on Galactic Habitability.

STATPHYS 26. www.statphys26.sciencesconf.org. A site for the 26th conference of the IUPAP International Union of Pure and Applied Physics to be held July 2016 in Lyon, France. Plenary and invited speakers include Uri Alon, William Bialek, Leticia Cugliandolo, Sriam Ramaswamy, Eduardo Altman, Irene Giardina (search), many others. A topical list includes Out-of-equilibrium aspects, Quantum fluids and condensed matter, Biological physics, Soft matter, Nonlinear physics, Interdisciplinary and complex systems. Among satellite meetings are Complex Networks, Active Matter, and Statistical Physics for Biology. We make note for several reasons. It shows how the subject content of this traditional field has quite been taken over by studies of a lively cosmos to culture systems iteration. Its occurrence in France and central Europe is notable for it exemplifies the frontiers of collaborative human knowledge, the only way to transcend ignorance. However then might all these theories and findings be gathered into a 21st century discovery of a natural scripture about the essence, worth, and futurity of a genesis procreation?

The conference will cover a wide range of topics including traditional aspects of statistical mechanics, such as applications to hard and soft condensed matter, phase transitions, disordered systems and non-equilibrium physics, as well as emergent and modern applications such as turbulence, signal processing, complex systems and mathematics.

Stochastic Models in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. www.pd.infn.it/~maritan/veniceworkshop/veniceworkshop. An April 5-7, 2018 conference at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Venice organized by the physics, mathematics and astronomy departments of the University of Padova, namely Samir Suweis, Marco Formentin, Amos Martial, and Paolo Dai Pra (search each). Our interest is the content, venue, sponsors, but also its summary next, which is a strong, clear statement to date of the global complexity revolution as it fills in and affirms an independent, generative source as it repeats in an exemplary way at each and every scale and instance. A constant self-organized criticality ithen springs from a duality of discrete component, and dynamic interactions as they evolve and emerge from universe to human.

Living systems are characterized by the emergence of recurrent dynamical patterns at all scales of magnitude. Self-organized behaviors are observed both in large communities of microscopic components - like neural oscillations and gene network activity - as well as on larger levels - as predator-prey equilibria to name a few. Such regularities are deemed to be universal in the sense they are due to common mechanisms, independent of the details of the system. This belief justifies investigation through quantitative models able to grasp key features while disregarding inessential complications. The attempt of modeling such complex systems leads naturally to consider large families of microscopic identical units. Complexity and self-organization then arise on a macroscopic scale from the dynamics of these minimal components that evolve coupled by interaction terms. (Summary)

The Physics of Everything. www.nyas.org/landing/ThePhysicsOfEverything.aspx. A four-part series from May to June, 2016 at the New York Academy of Sciences. The sessions are Complexity: A Science of the Future? Which features Bernard Chazelle, Marcelo Gleiser and Geoffrey West; The Rise of Human Consciousness with David Chalmers, Hod Lipson, Michael Graziano, and Max Tegmark, then Are We Alone in the Universe? by Adam Frank and Louisa Preston, and finally A Quantum State of Mind with Daniel Harlow, and Scott Aaronson.

Is there a limit to human knowledge? Where do philosophy and physics intersect? Are we alone in the universe? Answering these and other questions, 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, its greatest mysteries and future endeavors, and philosophical significance for our understanding of reality and the spiritual dimension of human existence. (Lecture Series)

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." (Complexity)

Third IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems. http://www.saso-conference.org. We note this September 14-18, 2009 meeting in San Francisco as an example of the reinvention across many natural, social, and technological realms in these complex adaptive system terms. A sterling list of worldwide conference announcements can be further accessed on the weekly Complexity Digest site at www.comdig.org.

Self-adaptive systems work in a top down manner. They evaluate their own global behavior and change it when the evaluation indicates that they are not accomplishing what they were intended to do, or when better functionality or performance is possible. Self-organizing systems work bottom up. They are composed of a large number of components that interact locally according to typically simple rules. The global behavior of the system emerges from these local interactions.

Third Infinity 2013. www.thirdinfinity.mpg.de. A Conference on Physics of Biological and Complex Systems held in October in Gottingen, arranged by the International Max Planck Research School, a joint endeavor of the University of Gottingen, MPI Biophysical Chemistry, and MPI Dynamics and Self-Organization. It is of special interest for its reference to science’s historic infinities of cosmos, atom, and life, which was first noted by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his The Phenomenon of Man. Keynote speakers were the British neuroscientist Karl Friston, and Eytan Domany, Computational Systems Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science. A public panel on The Practice of Science was chaired by Ahmed El Hady, MPI Biological Chemistry.

And as we record in mid 2014, the new phase of integral science and animate nature these worldwide meetings achieve seem as a parallel universe far removed from worsening barbaric conflicts and carnage, the guns of August a century later. However, one might ask, could such common revolutionary knowledge unto discovery, a future light age over an return to a new darker age, be able to turn the world from perpetual war to natural wisdom and sustainable peace. We try to note this work and progress going on, but however can it become revelation?

The Third Infinity: The field of Physics may be divided today in three sub-categories: infinitely big (relativity and astronomy), infinitely small (quantum mechanics and particle physics) and infinitely complex (complex systems and biophysics). The conference Third Infinity focuses on the latter and most recently addressed infinities (such as) the diverse fields of non-linear dynamical systems, brain as a complex system, experimental biophysics and robotics.

Building upon the increasingly strong links between physics, chemistry and the life sciences, the program aims at advancing the quantitative and molecular understanding of life processes while at the same time exploring new frontiers of physics. Research topics include biomolecular structure and dynamics, biological membranes, motor proteins and pattern formation in systems of interacting cells, neuronal information processing, and hydrodynamics and pattern formation of complex fluids. (MPI Research School)

Turbulence in clouds, neuronal fireworks in the brain, the physics of individual cells and the flow of water and oil through porous stone – these, and other particularly complex systems, are the focus of the research carried out by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization. Here, “complex” means that many individual systems combine to form a whole, the dynamics of which cannot necessarily be identified through the behaviour of the individual systems. Scientists say that these systems “organise themselves”. This holds true for the interaction of neurons in the brain (for example during learning) as well as for the numerous swirls that combine to form a turbulent cloud. There is reason to hope that a better understanding of the latter will enable a more accurate prediction of the future influence of clouds on global climate. (MPI for Dynamics and Self-Organization)

University of Massachusetts Amherst Science Seminars and Colloquia. http://www.physics.umass.edu/seminars. We cite this web page as a starter for a broad array of scientific presentations held over a two week period in early autumn at this near by campus. They were Sheldon Glashow, 1979 Nobel physics, on The Value of Fundamental Research; Inflation and BICEP2 Results by Lorenzo Sorbo, U Mass physics; Condensed Matter Seminar: Statistical Mechanics of Swarming Insects, Nicholas Ouellette, Yale; Astronomy Colloquia: 100 Earths Project, Debra Fischer, Yale; Chemistry Lecture: Reinterpreting the Genetic Code: From Polymers to Proteomics by David Tirrell, CalTech; and Organismic & Evolutionary Biology: Environmental Uncertainty and the Evolution of Complex Sociality, Dustin Rubenstein, Columbia. Type in the other departments for calendars and abstracts. The Ouellette and Tirrell talks were concurrent, six floors apart in the research tower. By what imagination could these separate contributions be gathered altogether within a single intellectual pursuit, which then might converge upon a grand discovery?

ADDENDUM: In February 2015 a joint Planck and BICEP report concluded that dust was in the data and a primordial inflation cannot yet be confirmed. However, as Science notes (347/595), the year long exercise is seen as a good primer for how to really prove what is still thought to be the cosmic origin.

Fernando, Chrisantha. New Research Program: Evolutionary Neurodynamics. www.simons.berkeley.edu/workshops/abstracts/326. The Queen Mary University of London neuroscientist describes the frontiers of brain and cognitive science.

I will give a broad overview of the research program that Prof. Eors Szathmary (Parmenides Foundation, Munich) and I have been carrying out since 2008 on Evolutionary Neurodynamics. Since 2013 this has been a FP-7 FET OPEN Project in collaboration with Luc Steels (UVB), Dario Floreano (EPFL), and Phil Husbands (Sussex). The hypothesis we explore is that some kind of natural selection algorithm is implemented in the brain, with entities that undergo multiplication, with variation and heredity. We have reason to believe that language learning is an evolutionary process occurring during development, in which populations of constructions compete for communicative success. We have reason to believe that during human problem solving, multiple solutions are entertained recombined and mutated in the brain. We have reason to believe that evolutionary methods provide a powerful ensemble approach to combine populations of decomposed and segmented predictive models of the world, policies, and value functions.

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