About this Course
Before the advent of quantum mechanics in the early 20th century, most scientists believed that it should be possible to predict the behavior of any object in the universe simply by understanding the behavior of its constituent parts. For instance, if one could write down the equations of motion for every atom in a system, it should be possible to solve those equations (with the aid of a sufficiently large computing device) and make accurate predictions about that system’s future. However, there are some systems that defy this notion. Consider a living cell, which consists mostly of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen along with other trace elements. We can study these components individually without ever imagining how combining them in just the right way can lead to something as complex and wonderful as a living organism! Thus, we can consider life to be an emergent property of what is essentially an accumulation of constituent parts that are somehow organized in a very precise way. This course lets you explore the concept of emergence using examples from materials science, mathematics, biology, physics, and neuroscience to illustrate how ordinary components when brought together can collectively yield unexpected, surprising behaviors. Note: The fractal image (Sierpinkski Triangle) depicted on the course home page was generated by a software application called XaoS 3.4, which is distributed by the Free Software Foundation under a GNU General Public License. Upon completing this course, you will be able to: 1. Explain the difference in assumptions between an emergent versus reductive approach to science. 2. Explain why the reductivist approach is understood by many to be inadequate as a means of describing and predicting complex systems. 3. Describe how the length scale used to examine a phenomenon can contribute to how you analyze and understand it. 4. Explain why the search for general principles that explain emergent phenomena make them an active locus of scientific investigation. 5. Discuss examples of emergent phenomena and explain why they are classified as emergent.
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 13 hours to complete

Suggested: 3 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 13 hours to complete

Suggested: 3 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Welcome - Let's Get Started

In this module we'll introduce the concept of emergence and provide an orientation to how this course will proceed. ...
Reading
3 videos (Total 13 min), 3 readings
Video3 videos
Video Introduction: Reuben H. Fleet Science Center - Part 10m
Video Introduction: Reuben H. Fleet Science Center - Part 21m
Reading3 readings
Welcome Message10m
Course Overview10m
Thank you to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center!2m

2

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

The Mystery of Foam

Can a substance be both a solid and a liquid? In this module we’ll take a close look at our first emergent phenomena, complex fluids....
Reading
4 videos (Total 28 min), 2 readings, 2 quizzes
Video4 videos
Video: The Mystery of Foam12m
Video: Foam and Sand10m
Video: Sand Demonstration2m
Reading2 readings
Module Overview10m
Further Reading: Emergent Phenomena10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Module 2 Quiz10m

3

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Chaotic Dynamics

Are seemingly random events truly random? In this module, we'll examine ways that deterministic processes can produce the appearance of randomness....
Reading
7 videos (Total 56 min), 2 readings, 2 quizzes
Video7 videos
Video: Reuben H. Fleet Science Center - Chaos Part 21m
Video: Introduction to Chaotic Dynamics4m
Video: What causes chaotic behavior?15m
Video: The principles of chaotic dynamics9m
Video: Chaotic Dynamics and Fractals9m
Video: Don Saari Interview14m
Reading2 readings
Module Overview10m
Further Reading: Web Resources on Chaotic Dynamics and Fractals10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Module 3 Quiz12m

4

Section
Clock
4 hours to complete

Pattern Formation and Systems Biology

Have you ever wondered why tigers have spots and leopards have spots? This module helps to explain how these and other patterns form in nature....
Reading
8 videos (Total 69 min), 2 readings, 2 quizzes
Video8 videos
Video: Reuben H. Fleet Science Center - Pattern Formation Part 22m
Video: Reuben H. Fleet Science Center - Pattern Formation Part 31m
Video: Patterns in One Dimension14m
Video: Turing12m
Video: How Plants Grow11m
Video: Fred Wan Interview13m
Video: Jun Allard Interview9m
Reading2 readings
Module Overview10m
Further Reading: Web Resources on Biological Pattern Formation10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Module 4 Quiz8m

5

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Quantum Coherence, Many-Body States, and Quantum Computing

How can we study quantum events from both a reductionist and emergent perspective? This module takes a look at the atomic and quantum level of some everyday phenomena....
Reading
6 videos (Total 37 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video6 videos
Video: Introduction to Emergence4m
Video: Describing Emergence8m
Video: Fractionalization Part 15m
Video: Fractionalization Part 25m
Video: Siddharth Parameswaran Interview9m
Reading2 readings
Module Overview10m
Further Reading: Reductionism, Entropy, and Randomness10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Module 5 Quiz8m

6

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Consciousness

One of the most awe inspiring emergent phenomena is how consciousness emerges from complex collections of atoms and molecules. In this module, we’ll take a look at how the various regions of our brain coordinate and interact to produce consciousness....
Reading
3 videos (Total 31 min), 2 readings, 2 quizzes
Video3 videos
Video: Fields of Consciousness18m
Video: Andrea Nicholas Interview8m
Reading2 readings
Module Overview10m
Further Reading: Web Resources on Consciousness10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Module 6 Quiz8m
4.4

Top Reviews

By JEJan 9th 2018

An excellent explanation of a daily growing matter of science and research. I encourage everyone interested in a groundbreaking view of science, to take this course.

By RVMay 8th 2017

i enjoyed all the different modules. I recommend they add more explanation to the chaos game assignment.

Instructors

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Michael Dennin

Professor of Physics and Astronomy; Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning
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Jun Allard

Assistant Professor
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Donald Saari

UCI Distinguished Professor of Economics and Mathematics
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Andrea Nicholas

Lecturer PSOE
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Fred Y.M. Wan

Professor
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Siddharth A. Parameswaran

Assistant Professor

About University of California, Irvine

Since 1965, the University of California, Irvine has combined the strengths of a major research university with the bounty of an incomparable Southern California location. UCI’s unyielding commitment to rigorous academics, cutting-edge research, and leadership and character development makes the campus a driving force for innovation and discovery that serves our local, national and global communities in many ways....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • If you pay for this course, you will have access to all of the features and content you need to earn a Course Certificate. If you complete the course successfully, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. Note that the Course Certificate does not represent official academic credit from the partner institution offering the course.

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