PHY 150 / CHE 298 | Winter 2012 | 4440 Chemistry Annex
WED/FRI, 8:30am-9:50am + public lecture series
David Pines, Alexandra Navrotsky + guest lecturers
Contact: anavrotsky@ucdavis.edu

The aim of this course is to provide students with the tools they need to develop an emergent perspective on problems in science and society by focusing on gateways to emergent behavior we have identified in the physical and biological sciences and on gateways that have been proposed for solving some of our major societal problems.

This new course in an experiment, stressing interdisciplinary and integrative learning at the upper undergraduate and graduate level. There are several aspects to the experiment: the topic of emergence as a unifying principle bringing together students in different sciences; the emphasis on emergent global problems and the science needed to assure clean, secure, and sustainable energy and food supplies to power and stabilize our world; the integration of high-profile guest lecturers who will also participate in other campus activities; and grading based on a website created by each student. This experiment will set the stage for other innovative, rigorous, and adventurous intellectual experiences for UC Davis students.

The course is organized and co-taught by David Pines, Distinguished Professor of Physics; and Alexandra Navrotsky, Distinguished Interdisciplinary Professor of Ceramic, Earth and Environmental Chemistry at UC Davis. We are enlisting the help of a number of internal and external distinguished colleagues who are world leaders in their respective fields, and are inviting them to spend two days on campus, during which they will give a major public lecture on Thursday evening [and one Tuesday evening] that will be part of the course, meet with our students on Friday morning, and, if they wish, give a more technical lecture in a relevant department or college.


Distinguished Public Lecture Series  

Sponsored by the Chancellor, or the Provost and the Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. Most lectures will be in 66 Roessler Hall on Thursdays at 7:30 pm. Recordings of most lectures are available here: UCTV - Physics 150 Distinguished Public Lecture Series: Gateways to Emergent Behavior in the Physical and Biological Sciences

JAN 10: Climate Change: Human Causes and Responses
Ralph Cicerone
President, National Academy of Sciences
4:00 pm, Vanderhoef Studio Theatre–Mondavi
JAN 19: Smart Materials for a Sustainable Future
Ivan Smalyukh
University of Colorado, Boulder
JAN 26: The Physics of Sustainability
Peter Littlewood
Associate Director, Argonne National Laboratory
FEB 02: The Emergent Challenge of Sustainability
Simon Levin
Princeton University
FEB 07: Using Emergence to Inspire Kids to Love Learning about Science and Technology
Shawn Carlson
MacArthur Fellow and Founder, LabRats™
FEB 09: Gateways to Environmental Education
Peter Smerud
Director, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center
FEB 16: Gateways to Emergence: Natural and Stealth Disasters
Susan Kieffer
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
FEB 23: Gateways to Carbon on Earth
Robert Hazen
Carnegie Institute of Washington

Student Projects

Friendly Science by Leo Alcorn and Sean Barberie
Emergent Universe Wiki by Nelson Cheung, David Gribble, Justin Smith, Dan Rubin and Peter Wagner
Emergence Podcast (mp3) by Kevin Corcoran
Emergence in Weather Patterns by Jungmin Escobar and Dylan Ryan
be-green wiki by Alex Huth, Lyuba Vosheva and Catherine Garoupa White
Energy Emergency and New Materials (PowerPoint Presentation) by Yanli Ding and Lei Zhang

When electrons or atoms or people interact, the collective behavior of the whole is different from that of its parts. We call that behavior emergent. Emergence thus refers to collective behavior in complex systems that do not exist in their individual parts; gateways to emergence are the regularities that characterize emergent behavior and the organizing principles that may be able to explain these.

In both science and society, developing an emergent perspective means ...
[continue reading: What is Emergence?]