General University Courses

The course is a General University-wide course of the series Cornerstones which addresses students from all faculties.
I will review the application of methods and ideas from physics to natural, social and human sciences.

We will review some paradigms that emerged recently:
“More is Different”,
“Small World Networks”,
“Peer-To-Peer viral propagation”,
“Fractals and (Multi-scaling”, etc.
We will present specific applications in: social revolutions dynamics, knowledge hierarchies in the internet, network dynamics of narratives, economic crisis propagation, education and economic growth, wealth distribution, globalization and financial instability, ecological patterns and  resilience, emergence of altruism and cooperation, immune system dynamics, visual system signal integration, networks in the brain, emergence of meaning in childrenscribbles, music therapy, algorithms for creative innovation, innovation diffusion and adoption.

Applications of Physics Inspired Methods in Natural, Social and Human Sciences

During the last decade, progress in theory and access to massive empirical data allowed the extension of the physics methods to a wide
range of disciplines. I will review the main paradigms that emerged up to this moment.

The “More is Different” paradigm:
composite objects of one science are the elementary objects of another science:
– emergence of complex collective phenomena from many simple elementary interactions.
– examples from biology, economics, humanities
– conceptual unifying and practical impact

The “Positive Feedback Loop”  paradigm
– the mechanism of self-fulfilling hopes / fears / expectations
– growth, structure, fractals, intermittent fluctuations,scaling.
– viciouscycles and virtuous cycles
– chemical and biological cycles, predator-prey cycles, economic cycles,
– built-in instability of growing/ developing systems and their sustainability.

The “Dynamical Networks” paradigm
– network representation of complex systems in microbiology, society, economics, internet, etc.
– qualitative characterization of network features and properties
– how do networks emerge and grow? Preferential attachment, copying links, diagonal links. Connectivity.
– emergence of global network complex properties from single link simple dynamical rules
– scaling networks, hierarchies, small worlds, clusters, cores, cliques

The Peer-to-Peer Diffusion paradigm
– percolation phase transitions
– the fine line between a hit and a flop in life, business, society and culture.
– supporting green technologies adoption
– bootstrap percolation
– the propagation and recovery from economic crises
– the propagation of social dissent. Successful vs failed revolutions..

The Importance of being Discrete” paradigm
– the fallacy of continuous density functions
– emergence of adaptive collective objects from proliferating inanimate elementary particles.
– the world is governed by rare extreme events rather then by averages
– singular change centers lead to adaptive growth ; Creative Destruction.
– Education and Economic Growth.
– Developing the Popperian paradigm (confrontation of theory with empirical facts) in biology, social and humanistic research.