Barry’s post on emergence has inspired me to re-link to my Feb 2008 Human Events article, which deals with the ultimate example of emergence in Nature (this is one of the essays in my new Discovery Institute Press book, In the Beginning and Other Essays on Intelligent Design ):
In a 2000 Mathematical Intelligencer article, I speculated on what would happen if we constructed a gigantic computer model which starts with the initial conditions on Earth 4 billion years ago and tries to simulate the effects that the four known forces of physics (the gravitational and electromagnetic forces and the strong and weak nuclear forces) would have on every atom and every subatomic particle on our planet. If we ran such a simulation out to the present day, I asked, would it predict that the basic forces of Nature would reorganize the basic particles of Nature into libraries full of encyclopedias, science texts and novels, nuclear power plants, aircraft carriers with supersonic jets parked on deck, and computers connected to laser printers, CRTs and keyboards?
A friend read my article and said, computers have advanced a lot in the last seven years, I think we could actually try such a simulation on my new laptop now. So I wrote the program — in Fortran, naturally — and we tried it…. [Rest of article is here. ]