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Complexity and the Arrow of Time


  • 14 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 368 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.73 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 003
  • Dewey version: 23
  • LC Classification: Q175.32.C65 C64 2013
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Complexity (Philosophy)
    • Science--Philosophy
    • SCIENCE / Physics.--bisacsh

Library of Congress Record

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Complexity and the Arrow of Time
Cambridge University Press
9781107027251 - Complexity and the Arrow of Time - Edited by Charles H. Lineweaver, Paul C. W. Davies and Michael Ruse

Complexity and the Arrow of Time

There is a widespread assumption that the universe in general, and life in particular, is “getting more complex with time.” This book brings together a wide range of experts in science, philosophy, and theology and unveils their joint effort in exploring this idea. They confront essential problems behind the theory of complexity and the role of life within it. What is complexity? When does it increase, and why? Is the universe evolving towards states of ever greater complexity and diversity? If so, what is the source of this universal enrichment? This book addresses those difficult questions, and offers a unique cross-disciplinary perspective on some of the most profound issues at the heart of science and philosophy. Readers will gain insights into complexity that reach deep into key areas of physics, biology, complexity science, philosophy, and religion.

Complexity and the Arrow of Time

Edited by

Charles H. Lineweaver

Australian National University

Paul C. W. Davies

Arizona State University

Michael Ruse

Florida State University

University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom

Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge.

It furthers the University's mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.
Information on this title:

© Cambridge University Press 2013

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2013

Printed and bound in the United Kingdom by Bell and Bain Ltd

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data

Complexity and the arrow of time / edited by Charles H. Lineweaver, Paul C. W. Davies and Michael Ruse.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-107-02725-1 (hardback)
1. Complexity (Philosophy) 2. Science – Philosophy. I. Lineweaver, C. H. (Charles H.) II. Davies, P. C. W. III. Ruse, Michael.
Q175.32.C65C64 2013
003 – dc23 2013007433

ISBN 978-1-107-02725-1 Hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


Author biographies
Part I    Introduction
1         What is complexity? Is it increasing?
Charles H. Lineweaver, Paul C. W. Davies, and Michael Ruse
Part II   Cosmological and physical perspectives
2         Directionality principles from cancer to cosmology
Paul C. W. Davies
3         A simple treatment of complexity: cosmological entropic boundary conditions on increasing complexity
Charles H. Lineweaver
4         Using complexity science to search for unity in the natural sciences
Eric J. Chaisson
5         On the spontaneous generation of complexity in the universe
Seth Lloyd
6         Emergent spatiotemporal complexity in field theory
Marcelo Gleiser
Part III  Biological complexity, evolution, and information
7         Life: the final frontier for complexity?
Simon Conway Morris
8         Evolution beyond Newton, Darwin, and entailing law: the origin of complexity in the evolving biosphere
Stuart A. Kauffman
9         Emergent order in processes: the interplay of complexity, robustness, correlation, and hierarchy in the biosphere
Eric Smith
10        The inferential evolution of biological complexity: forgetting nature by learning to nurture
David Krakauer
11        Information width: a way for the second law to increase complexity
David H. Wolpert
Part IV   Philosophical perspectives
12        Wrestling with biological complexity: from Darwin to Dawkins
Michael Ruse
13        The role of generative entrenchment and robustness in the evolution of complexity
W. C. Wimsatt
14        On the plurality of complexity-producing mechanisms
Philip Clayton

Author biographies

Eric J. Chaisson is a Research Associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, where he teaches an annual undergraduate class on “cosmic evolution”. His scientific research involves an interdisciplinary, thermodynamic study of physical and biological phenomena that seeks to understand the origin, evolution, and unification of galaxies, stars, planets, and life forms in the universe. His educational research engages experienced teachers and computer animators in creating better methods, technological aids, and novel curricula to stimulate teachers and instruct students in all aspects of the natural sciences. He is currently a board member of the International Big History Association.

Philip Clayton is Ingraham Professor and Dean of the Faculty at Claremont School of Theology and Provost of Claremont Lincoln University. He received a joint doctorate in philosophy and religious studies from Yale University and has held teaching posts at Williams College and the California State University, as well as guest professorships at the University of Munich, the University of Cambridge, and Harvard Divinity School. The author or editor of some two dozen books, Clayton specializes in the philosophy of science, especially theoretical biology and emergent complexity, and in the philosophy of religion and comparative religious studies.

Simon Conway Morris is professor of evolutionary paleobiology at Cambridge University and a Fellow of St. John's College. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1990 and has won various medals and awards. His contribution to the Burgess Shale was summarized in The Crucible of Creation, while some of his earlier work on evolutionary convergence is discussed in Life's Solution (Cambridge University Press). He contributes to the public understanding of science and the science/religion debates.

Paul C. W. Davies is a Regents’ Professor and the founding Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University (ASU). He is also Principal Investigator in the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology and co-director of ASU's Cosmology Initiative. His research has spanned the fields of cosmology, gravitation, quantum field theory, astrobiology, and cancer research, with particular emphasis on black holes, the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of cancer – topics on which he has authored or co-authored 30 books. He is a Member of the Order of Australia, and the recipient of the Templeton Prize, the Bicentenary Medal of Chile, the Robinson Cosmology Prize, the Faraday Prize of The Royal Society, and the Kelvin Medal of the UK Institute of Physics. The asteroid 1992 OG was officially named “(6870) Pauldavies” in his honor.

Marcelo Gleiser is Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. His research interests include the physics of the early universe, the properties of solitons in classical and quantum field theories, and questions related to the origins of life and self-organizing complexity. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and an elected member of the Brazilian Academy of Philosophy. He serves on the editorial board of National Geographic magazine. His two science series for Brazil's TV Globo were watched by more than 30 million viewers. He writes a weekly science column for a Brazilian newspaper and is the co-founder of a science and culture blog hosted by National Public Radio.

Stuart A. Kauffman a biologist who was trained as a medical doctor, is Finland Distinguished Professor at Tampere University of Technology. He holds joint appointments as a visiting distinguished research professor at the University of Vermont in the College of Medicine and the College of Mathematical and Engineering Sciences. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, was awarded an honorary degree by the Catholic University of Louvain, was a MacArthur Fellow from 1987 to 1992, and received the Gold Medal of the Academia Lincea Rome. The former co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, he has served on the editorial boards of many other journals and has written four books. His founding patents about what is sometimes called “molecular diversity” helped spawn a field known as combinatorial chemistry. He is well known for work on self-organization in evolution, complexity theory, and collectively autocatalytic sets for the origin of life. Recent work with G. Longo and M. Montevil (see Chapter 8) suggests that no laws entail the evolution of the biosphere.

David C. Krakauer is Professor of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His research focuses on the evolutionary history of information processing mechanisms in adaptive systems. The current emphasis of his work is on robust information transmission and signaling dynamics, particularly their role in constructing novel, higher level structures, such as social systems and language. He moved on to the Santa Fe Institute as a professor in 2002 and was made faculty chair in 2009. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, Theory in Biosciences, Biology Digest, Interdisciplinary Science Review, Monographs in Mathematical Biology and Primers in Complex Systems.

Charles H. Lineweaver is an associate professor at the Australian National University's Planetary Science Institute (PSI), a joint venture of the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Research School of Earth Science. His research involves analysis of the statistical distribution of exoplanets, the cosmic microwave background radiation, and cosmological prerequisites for the formation of terrestrial planets and life. He is a member of the editorial board of Astrobiology Magazine.

Seth Lloyd Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is interested in the role information plays in physical systems, particularly systems in the quantum realm. He is a principal investigator at the Research Laboratory of Electronics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and an adjunct professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His pioneering research in the fields of quantum computation and quantum communications resulted in the first technologically feasible design for a quantum computer, and he also has demonstrated the viability of quantum analog computation, proven quantum analogs of Claude Shannon's noisy channel theorem, and designed novel methods for quantum error correction and noise reduction. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Michael Ruse is a philosopher of science who has found in evolution a kind of Weltanschauung, a world picture that gives meaning to life. He is one of the foremost contemporary Darwin scholars. Ruse currently teaches at Florida State University. He has honorary degrees from the University of Bergen in Norway and McMaster University, and is a fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The founding editor of Biology and Philosophy, he serves on the editorial boards of eight other journals as well as serving as general editor of the Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology. He is a former president of the History and Philosophy of Science Section of the AAAS and presently an associate of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.

D. Eric Smith is an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He works on problems of self-organization in thermal, chemical, and biological systems. His particular focus at present is the statistical mechanics of the transition from the geochemistry of the early Earth to the first levels of biological organization with an emphasis on the emergence of the metabolic network. D. E. Smith worked in physical, non-linear, and statistical acoustics for seven years at the university's Applied Research Laboratories and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory before joining the Santa Fe faculty in 2000.

William C. Wimsatt is emeritus Professor of Philosophy and in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, and is Winton Chair in the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Minnesota. He is known for his groundbreaking work in the philosophy of biology. His research and writing center on a cluster of problems arising in the analysis of the structure, behavior, and evolution of complex, functionally organized systems. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he is the recipient of awards for curriculum innovation and outstanding graduate teaching. He serves on the scientific advisory board of the Land Institute, the board of advisors of the Philosophical Gourmet (Leiter) Report, as advisory editor to Biological Theory, and on the editorial boards of Foundations of Science, Journal of Cognition and Culture, the electronic Evolutionary Psychology, and of the BioQUEST Educational Consortium.

David Wolpert is currently in the Information Sciences Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. Previously he was Ulam Scholar at the Center for Non-linear Studies in Los Alamos. Earlier in his career, he was at the NASA Ames Research Center and a consulting professor at Stanford University, where he formed the Collective Intelligence group. He has worked at IBM and at a data mining startup, and been an external faculty member at numerous institutions. His current research focuses on game theory, the application of machine learning to both optimization and Monte Carlo methods, complexity measures, modeling evolution of technology, information theory, and the foundations of physics and inference. He is the author of three books, three patents, and more than one hundred refereed papers, and has won numerous awards.

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