It's Complicated: Discovering Relationships When Traditional Physics Breaks Down

Dr. J Quinn Norris
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Brigham Young University Idaho

Modern physics discoveries (relativity, quantum mechanics, the Standard Model, etc.) have pushed the limits of our understanding far beyond the limits of our everyday experience; yet, there are many everyday phenomena such as ice skating, sand flowing, and static electricity that we don’t fully understand. In these phenomena, traditional physics methods which rely on reducing complexity (approximation, linear algebra, series expansion, etc.) provide the wrong answer or don’t even make sense because the eliminate the very complexity that gives rise to the phenomenon. As methods for understanding these phenomena have been developed, a new field of Complexity Science has emerged opening up new and exciting areas of scientific discovery. I will share my experience with complexity science and how these approaches have been used to understand geophysical systems such as earthquakes and shale fracking for oil and gas recovery.