In a series of three public lectures collectively titled "The Many Faces of Complexity," renowned scholar, science activist, zoologist, and complexity pioneer Robert May considered the complex systems that matter most to humanity's future.

The lecture series comprised SFI's 2012 Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lecture Series October 2-4, 2012 in Santa Fe.

May is a professor of zoology at Oxford University and Imperial College, the former president of Britain’s Royal Society, the former chief scientific advisor to the U.K. government, and a member of SFI’s Science Board.

Lecture I (October 2), “Beauty and Truth in Mathematics and Science” – May explores the extent to which beauty has guided, and still guides, humanity’s quest to understand how the world works, with a brief look at the interactions among beliefs, values, beauty, truth, and our expectations for tomorrow’s world.

Watch Lecture I video (67 minutes)

Lecture II (October 3), “What Is Stability in Today’s Complex Financial Systems?” – The economic crisis prompts May to explore how we might design financial services that satisfy their purpose of efficient distribution of capital in a free-market system but without the fragility and (hidden) costliness of our current systems, with emphasis on what ecology can teach us about banking.

Watch Lecture II video (78 minutes)

Lecture III (October 4), “People and Tomorrow’s (Too Small) World” – What having more people on Earth, with each of them having a longer life span and greater per-person impact on our environment, means for the world’s climate and ecosystems and the services they deliver (with emphasis on how little we know about these questions).

Watch Lecture III video (78 minutes)

Listen to May's interview on KSFR's Santa Fe Radio Cafe (22 minutes, September 28, 2012)

The Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lecture Series honors the memory of theoretical mathematician Stanislaw Ulam.

The Institute thanks Diana MacArthur for her generous sponsorship of the 2012 Ulam Lectures.

SFI Community Lectures offer a window into the Institute’s research to understand the common patterns in physical, computational, biological, and social complex systems that underlie the most profound issues facing science and society today.

SFI's 2012 SFI Community Lecture Series was made possible by Los Alamos National Bank.

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