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Self-Organizing systems discussion 2:

  1. Nov 28, 2011 #1
    Hello, I was reading into self-organizing systems and I decided to post on a few curiosities that i stumbled over because members here know more about this topic than I do. So if any of you will, give me some insights. [I am an undergraduate math student]

    I know a lot of findings within quantum theory are hinting that we were wrong about a few things, and that things operate a lot differently than we previously thought. It is now a frustrating process to mend the classical mechanics and special relativity to the new quantum world. I am wondering, could we just be experiencing emergent properties of an infinite amount of systems?

    I mean, we are studying so many different dynamical and complex systems going from the subatomic to the universal; is it possible there is something we aren't noticing because we are individual components in this system and cannot see the emergent feature that we are part of? Or, maybe that the theories we have for the BIG are just emergent properties of the SMALL and thats why the properties and characteristics arent adding up? I know i may sound a little off base here, just getting a little philosophical haha.

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 28, 2011 #2


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    The idea is that even our theories of the small are already emergent. This is because our idea of small (at the scale of the LHC) is already way bigger than the Planck scale. This is reviewed by Weinberg in http://arxiv.org/abs/0908.1964
  4. Nov 28, 2011 #3
    i forgot to clarify:
    self-organizing systems are physical and biological systems in which pattern and structure at the global level arises solely from interactions among the lower-level components of the system. the systems components are executed using only local information, without reference to the global patterns.

    an emergent property : ie: a molecule of water is not wet, wetness is an EMERGENT property of large quantities of water molecules.
  5. Nov 28, 2011 #4
    atyy, can you please expand? our theories of the small are emergent because we are looking at the "small" on a larger scale [extra dimensions] than that of the plank scale? so our "small" are emergent?
  6. Nov 28, 2011 #5


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    It has nothing necessarily to do with extra dimensions. Basically, with higher and higher energies in collisions, one probes smaller and smaller length scales. The highest energies experimentally probed so far in accelerators are ~TeV, which are low compared to the Planck energy. Given the correspondence between energy and scale, this means our experiments only probe large length scales. So the standard model of particle physics, although capturing all the physics known to us at large length scales, may fail at even higher energies. We believe this is likely, even without experimental evidence of such a failure, because at least perturbatively, the standard model fails to make sense at high energies. Thus the standard model is probably an emergent theory.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011
  7. Nov 28, 2011 #6
    I think that our theories are emergent in this way, but there is not much point in trying to guess what those smaller systems are like in the absence of experiment. There are too many possibilities, and even if you did somehow guess then how would you know you were correct?
  8. Nov 30, 2011 #7
    excellent excellent, thank you guys! and also, thanks for getting me started on looking at planck energy and length. it led me to holographic theory and super symmetry theory, great stuff!

    Now, if we can't get to planck length expirementally [its so small], does this mean we can in no way verify string theory? Also, why do they say planck length may be the smallest length possible? What led them to that conclusion?
  9. Nov 30, 2011 #8


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    That has been one of the big detractors of the theory, yes. It posits elements that are too small to test in any reasonable near future. And if it's not falsifiable, technically it's not a theory.
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