Viewpoints on Emergent Phenomena in Non-equilibrium Systems

Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics

Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics

School of Physics and Astronomy James Clerk Maxwell Building University of Edinburgh Mayfield Road Edinburgh EH9 3JZ
Until recently, establishing the fundamental physical principles of systems that are far from equilibrium – e.g., because they are driven by their environment, are slowly relaxing to an equilibrium state, or are excited by non-thermal fluctuations – has been a largely theoretical enterprise. Advances in experimental techniques (e.g., on small quantum-mechanical or biological systems subject to strong fluctuations) have led to a much greater practical relevance of this theory to the extent that understanding and controlling far-from-equilibrium systems is recognised as a 21st Century "Grand Challenge" area by bodies such as the EPSRC. The "Emergence and Physics Far From Equilibrium" network was established by the EPSRC to draw together the UK's research activity and develop a focus for future research in this area.