Dr. Laughlin won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1998 for his part in research to explain the quantum Hall effect in semiconductor physics. He is currently the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Physics at Stanford University.
This talk follows the course of Dr. Laughlin's recent book of the same name, and deals with the origin of physical law - specifically its spontaneous creation through principles of self-organization.
The idea is that the modern practice of defining science to be knowledge of parts of things - atoms, molecules, DNA and so forth - is often fundamentally misguided.
Real nature is often like a painting of Monet, something beautifully perfect when viewed from a distance but quite meaningless when examined closely. Dr. Laughlin will discuss the difference between law arising collectively and law that "just is", and make the case that the second kind of law is actually mythological and a product of Western religious beliefs. This simple idea accounts for why so many people have trouble finding the frontier of science. They are looking in the wrong place.
Dr. Laughlin will argue further that the coming Age of Biology is actually no such thing, but instead the Age of Emergence, a time when reductionist ideology is being swept away by events and reason. This is not to say that the laws of the tiny parts are wrong, but merely that they have been rendered irrelevant in many cases by their children, and their children's children, the higher organizing laws of the world.