Complexity Explorer Santa Few Institute


bénard system

A simple physical system, consisting of a liquid in a container being heated from the bottom and which has been extensively studied by the Prigogine School because of its demonstration of self-organization and emergence. As the liquid in a container is heated from the bottom, at a critical temperature level (a far-from-equilibrium condition), there is the sudden emergence of striking hexagonally-shaped convection cells. Prigogine has termed these hexagonal cells "dissipative structures" since they maintain their structure while dissipating energy through the system and from the system to the environment. These "dissipative structures" are a good example of unpredictable emergent patterns since the direction of rotation of the convection cells is the result of the amplification of random currents in the liquid.

Fluid Dynamics, Thermodynamics, Emergence