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How Do Life, Economy and Other Complex Systems Escape the Heat Death?

Theoretical Physics Department, Racah Institute of Physics, Hebrew University, Givat Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Entropy 2014, 16(3), 1687-1727;
Received: 2 December 2013 / Revised: 25 January 2014 / Accepted: 27 February 2014 / Published: 21 March 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Systems)
PDF [2794 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


The primordial confrontation underlying the existence of our Universe can be conceived as the battle between entropy and complexity. The law of ever-increasing entropy (Boltzmann H-theorem) evokes an irreversible, one-directional evolution (or rather involution) going uniformly and monotonically from birth to death. Since the 19th century, this concept is one of the cornerstones and in the same time puzzles of statistical mechanics. On the other hand, there is the empirical experience where one witnesses the emergence, growth and diversification of new self-organized objects with ever-increasing complexity. When modeling them in terms of simple discrete elements one finds that the emergence of collective complex adaptive objects is a rather generic phenomenon governed by a new type of laws. These “emergence” laws, not connected directly with the fundamental laws of the physical reality, nor acting “in addition” to them but acting through them were called “More is Different” by Phil Anderson, “das Maass” by Hegel etc. Even though the “emergence laws” act through the intermediary of the fundamental laws that govern the individual elementary agents, it turns out that different systems apparently governed by very different fundamental laws: gravity, chemistry, biology, economics, social psychology, end up often with similar emergence laws and outcomes. In particular the emergence of adaptive collective objects endows the system with a granular structure which in turn causes specific macroscopic cycles of intermittent fluctuations. View Full-Text
Keywords: entropy; emergence; complexity; creative destruction entropy; emergence; complexity; creative destruction
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Solomon, S.; Golo, N. How Do Life, Economy and Other Complex Systems Escape the Heat Death? Entropy 2014, 16, 1687-1727.

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