Course Description

From the self-assembly of viruses into beautiful (and deadly!) structures, to the chaos of global climate cycles or the clumpiness of galaxies in the universe, it’s clear that the rules of nature can create both order and disorder. What causes systems to tend towards order or chaos, even though we know that entropy is always increasing? What’s the difference between random and chaotic behavior? How are catastrophes like earthquakes and traffic jams triggered? In a seminar setting, we will look at such examples from across the sciences and engineering. Along the way, we’ll use a variety of approaches: reading and discussion, examining the natural world, conducting laboratory and computer experiments, and writing about our explorations. Sometimes we’ll use mathematics, and at other times pictures and words, in our attempt to understand how these phenomena emerge.

Lorenz attractorMandelbrot setzebra

fractal cauliflowertraffic jamcapsid virus


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