The Restless universe
|Introduction to The restless Universe|
1 The lawful Universe2 The clockwork Universe
5 The uncertain Universe
Other titles in the Physical World series
Answer and comments
Emergence stresses the fact that certain phenomena arise only in complex systems, and have no direct counterpart in terms of fundamental phenomena. For example, an iron bar has a strength that is not directly related to the strength of iron atoms.
Most physicists believe that everything can be related, in principle, to fundamental phenomena. In principle, the strength of an iron bar can be explained in terms of the forces between atoms, which in turn can be explained in terms of quantum field theory. The hard-line reductionist might therefore dismiss the strength of the rod as being of minor importance, since it is a consequence of more fundamental ideas. Most physicists (and even more engineers) would disagree. Advocates of emergence delight in the fact that new phenomena, such as rigidity, emerge from more basic laws. Far from dismissing ideas such as rigidity they use them as valid concepts in their own right.
Relevant LinksA note on powers of ten and significant figures
|S207 The Physical World|