Santa Fe Institute Collaboration Platform

COMPLEX TIME: Adaptation, Aging, & Arrow of Time

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Contact: Caitlin Lorraine McShea, Program Manager,

A Stab at Time/JohnHarte

From Complex Time

Notes by user John Harte (UC Berkeley/SFI) for A Stab at Time

Post-meeting Reflection

1+ paragraphs on any combination of the following:

  • Presentation highlights
  • Open questions that came up
  • How your perspective changed
  • Impact on your own work
  • e.g. the discussion on [A] that we are having reminds me of [B] conference/[C] initiative/[D] funding call-for-proposal/[E] research group

Highlight: As a scientist, for me the highlight was learning a huge amount about how composers, dancers and choreographers think about the concept of time, and incorporate it into their work. Also fascinating was the realization that the medium within which an artist works places strong limits on how time is handled (to use an overly mundane word for a far from mundane process), and yet, as often occurs in the sciences, those constraints or limits can enhance creativity.

Open Question: Aside from the many open questions about time in physics and biology, the open questions that stood out for me revolved around how artists working across multiple domains (e.g., conducting and dancing) can best deal with incongruities in timing.

How has perspective changed: I began with no perspective on the arts, so rather than it changing, it originated and enlarged!

Impact on my work: Honestly, probably none. But that wasn't the point of the working group.

Echoes of the discussion: reminded me that artistic creation has similarities to creativity in the sciences (see comment on constraints above) but there are important differences that I had been unaware of. Out of our discussions the first day, a wonderful outline of the structure and content of a ballet on the theme of time emerged, mostly in one creative and intense blossoming from Karole at the end of the first day. Her design (blueprint) will be improved upon with iteration, but the core is there. I have never participated in a purely scientific working group, or lab group meeting with my students and postdocs, in which something similar happened. The usual timeline of creativity in the sciences, even by those with the most experience, is far slower, more halting, following a pathway with far more dead ends.

Reference material notes

Some examples:

  • Here is [A] database on [B] that I pull data from to do [C] analysis that might be of interest to this group (insert link).
  • Here is a free tool for calculating [ABC] (insert link)
  • This painting/sculpture/forms of artwork is emblematic to our discussion on [X]!
  • Schwartz et al. 2017 offers a review on [ABC] migration as relate to climatic factors (add the reference as well).

Reference Materials

Presenter on the following Agenda items

Time: history of thinking about time, CPT time, matter and anti-matter, mirroring

Presentation file
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