Wednesday, October 16, 2013
3.30pm, Thirkield Hall Auditorium, Room 300
Howard University Department of Physics and Astronomy presents
Distinguished Lecture Series
Department of Physics
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Self-Organization - Nature's Intelligent Design
Complex patterns are common throughout nature, from the distribution of galaxies in the Universe to
the organization of neurons in the human brain. It is generally assumed that such complex structure
must have a complex cause, but it may be that the patterns spontaneously arise through the repeated
application of simple rules. This talk will provide examples of self-organization in nature and will
describe six simple computer models that can replicate the features of these patterns. The models
typically produce fractal spatial structure and chaotic temporal dynamics characterized by power laws
and unpredictability, even when the models are simple and purely deterministic. The work has
application to fields as diverse as physics, ecology, political science, economics, sociology, and art.
CLINT SPROTT earned his bachelor's degree from MIT in 1964 and his Ph.D. in physics from the University
of Wisconsin–Madison in 1969. His professional interests are in experimental plasma physics and chaos
theory. In 1984, the University of Wisconsin–Madison began a program called The Wonders of Physics,
which Sprott presented in a typical travelling showman style to audiences of all ages. The show has
been presented on the Madison campus over 200 times to a total audience of over 60,000 over a
period of 25 years. His shows are available freely as streaming video from his website.
> Co-sponsorship by the College of Arts & Sciences, Office of the Provost and Howard University Chapter of Sigma Xi.
This colloquium is sponsored by the Division of Plasma Physics (DPP) of the American Physical Society (APS) under the auspices of the Distinguished
Lecturers in Plasma Physics Series for 2013-14. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Distinguished Lecturers Travel Grant Program.