Notes on Complexity

Neil Theise

Proposal in English Original publisher: Spiegel & GrauScience

On behalf of: Spiegel & Grau

Everything is just process, movement, interaction and awareness; everything only looks like a Thing.

The great scientific revolutions of the early twentieth century—the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics—are well known to a general audience, with countless successful books and documentaries brining the science to the masses. But another theory of equal profundity was developed by mathematicians at the end of the century called Complexity Theory, the study of how complex behaviors of systems constitute the world. Quantum mechanics is often described as the most precise and successful scientific theory of all time, but it has nothing to say about why the arteries in our bodies, the courses of rivers, or frost on a window all echo the shapes of trees. Simply put: while quantum physics describes what the universe is made up of in exquisite detail, Complexity Theory explains why these infinitesimal particles configure the world as we know it.

The implications of Complexity are endless. This small and poetic volume explores the underlying connections between ant colonies and economic bubbles, cancer and quantum foam. The inspired structure of the book evokes the nature of Complexity itself, with each chapter further exploring the fractals that compose living systems—from our own cells to our whole bodies, the planet’s ecosystems, down to the self-organizing atoms and quantum particles that constitute the universe as a whole. Based on Theise’s popular lecture, which has been presented at conferences, meditation retreats, and universities worldwide, Notes on Complexity illuminates these deep scientific concepts in clear and elegant prose.