M.C. Escher’s “Butterflies”
© 2010 The M.C. Escher Company- Holland. All rights reserved. www.mcescher.com

Contact: Mary Ann Meyers, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

Scientists and philosophers have long argued that many natural systems, and perhaps even the universe as a whole, possess an inbuilt tendency for complexity to increase with time. This claim, however, rests uncomfortably with the second law of thermodynamics, with its emphasis on the rise of entropy. Attempts to reconcile the tension have led to interesting theoretical advances in the study of gravitational physics, self-organizing systems, computational models of complexity, and mathematical models of biological evolution. The purpose of this symposium is to explore these reconciliation attempts, both scientific and philosophical, and to address the questions of under what circumstances complexity will increase with time and whether it is possible to identify a general principle of increasing complexity. How best, moreover, should we quantify complexity to capture both systematic characteristics and to exhibit dynamic behavior generically? Those gathered to explore issues at the heart of complexity science, a field of inquiry the John Templeton Foundation has designated as a priority category for research funding, meet in a venue dedicated to pushing the boundaries of research.