From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki
Sustainability is problematic. I'm rather pessimistic, except that the 2009 summer school left me oddly positive. This year I'm here trying to regain that positive view.
My attempt to engage sustainability focuses on formulating stability criteria for multi-scale, multi-domain systems. I view this as a problem in mathematics and theoretical physics.
One concrete example, though, that has received some press lately (for better or worse), is a collaborative project to map out how climate change affects tree-eating insects and how the resulting regional deforestation, in turn, might affect planetary carbon balances. The particular problem and the associated mathematical stability issues are key, in my view, but they are little appreciated or understood.
Here's a website at the Art & Science Laboratory with various links on the pine bark beetle deforestation project: []
There's also a short paper that outlines the basic issues: "Entomogenic Climate Change", []
And a longer one: "Insects, Trees, and Climate: The Bioacoustic Ecology of Deforestation and Entomogenic Climate Change", [
I teach physics at UC Davis and research the physics of computation, emergent patterns, and the thermodynamic origins of cognition.
I also direct UCD's Complexity Sciences Center.
I've been on SFI's faculty since 1989 and was a Research Professor from 1995 to 2004.
In the picture above, my volkswagen van is parked in front of the building with the round roof. The town is Valley Ford, California, and the day is the final unfurling of Cristo's Running Fence. I'll be driving that van at the summer school.
My (antique-HTML) home page: []