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The development of heat engines in the 19th century brought the concept of energy to the fore. It effected changes in the states of matter – solid, liquid and gas – breaking down the ordered solid states into the more disordered states of liquids and gases.

The idea developed of entropy – a measure of disorder – as a core concept, linked to energy and change. But how can a physics based on disorder explain the obviously highly structured universe around us, and life in particular?

Slovenian physicist Andrej Detela argues that it can’t, and that we need to bring in a concept first presented in 1942 by the Italian mathematician and physicist Luigi Fantappié and taken forward by the Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi: the concept of syntropy, a converging force which leads to life, order and diversity and is present at the quantum level in living systems. This, he says, gives a new and more dynamic picture of the world, with two fundamental flows in mutual balance, one building up and the other breaking down.

You can watch this free event from here, through the YouTube link which will be coming shortly, or if you’d like to join questions and discussion, you can also go to the Science Festival’s YouTube channel

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