This symposium will celebrate the life, interests, and the science of one of the great Metaphysical Detectives of the 20th Century: Murray Gell-Mann.
How best to describe someone for whom a narrow list of his passions included the life of birds, the collapse of ancient societies, the methods of Sherlock Holmes, the common roots of world languages, pre-Columbian pottery, Chinese restaurant menus, the symmetries of space and time, tie designs, and New Yorker cartoons?
Murray Gell-Mann (1969 Nobel Prize in physics)—with all of his merit badges, medals, accolades, and prizes—did what Quixote did in later life—he went in pursuit of dragons. And he accomplished what Quixote could not—he found them.
He found them in a rich tangle of interests, methods, and theories that made for a mind obsessed with both the contingent and the universal. In large part as a consequence of his example and his cognitive pattern, the world will benefit from future minds discontent with the strictures of the disciplines and the moats of the academies, and proceed animated by the insight of one of his favorite writers, Jorge Luis Borges who wrote, “There is no pleasure more complex than that of thought and we surrendered ourselves to it.”
The Symposium will bring together scientists, students, journalists, writers and others, from very diverse disciplinary backgrounds, including physicists, economists, computer scientists, anthropologists, mathematicians, and information theorists to reflect on Gell-Mann's contributions to physics and particularly to complexity science and to examine how the themes in Gell-Mann's work can influence complexity science research going forward. The symposium will address Gell-Mann's legacy as a scientific journey with a focus on a variety of intertwined themes in particle physics, renormalization, quantum cosmology, the physics of information, measuring complexity, scaling theory, evolution, language and economics.