How do complex structures come about?

Isolated systems evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium, a state of maximum entropy. But how is this compatible with the spatial and temporal complexity of structures and processes that we find in the universe on all scales? Which fundamental physical principles lead to the emergence of complex structures, orders and information?

Exactly these questions are addressed by the scientists in Connector 8 "The Emergence of Structure and the Physics of Non-Equilibrium". They explore the basic principles of complex physical systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Their goal is to discover and characterize universal principles underlying emergent phenomena such as structure formation in the universe and processes of self-organization in biochemical systems (origin of life).

The central question of these investigations is how the interaction of elementary building blocks leads to collective behaviour on the level of the entire system.