Madison Chaos and Complex Systems Discussion Group

2022 Discussions

With the onset of COVID and ageing of the organizers, the Chaos and Complex Systems Seminar has morphed into an informal discussion group following the pattern of recent summers. Each week, we have an assigned topic, a facilitator, and a web-accessible reading or video. The reading or video should take no more than 20 minutes, and the facilitator should be prepared to give at most a 5-minute introduction to the topic and lead the ensuing discussion. All discussions are Tuesday noon at the Memorial Union (on the Terrace under the  big tree in the summer, otherwise indoors as announced in Today in the Union posted at the building entrance). Anyone interested in facilitating a topic should contact Peter Sobol.

Short List


Mar 15, 2022

Topic: Chaos in Ukraine

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: None

Mar 22, 2022

Topic: Chaos in Ukraine (cont)

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: The War in Ukraine and Universal Values

Mar 29, 2022

Topic: Response of scientists to the invasion of Ukraine

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: CERN Council responds to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Apr 5, 2022

Topic: Threat posed by deepfakes

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: Deepfakes Explained

Apr 12, 2022

Topic: Is history chaotic?

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: History as Chaos (?)

Apr 19, 2022

Topic: Free speech quiz at Whitewater

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: The University of Wisconsin has Much to Explain

Apr 26, 2022

Topic: Warp-capable spacecraft

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: DARPA Funded Researchers Accidentally Discover the World's First Warp Bubble

May 3, 2022

Topic: Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: Article by Anand Giridharadas

May 10, 2022

Topic: Plastic pollution

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: Kipp Street Station and  Is Plastic Recycling a Myth?

May 17, 2022

Topic: The Fermi paradox

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: New ‘burnout’ theory explains why aliens are avoiding Earth

May 24, 2022

Topic: The UFO/UAP phenomenon

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: 400 Reports of Strange Alien Phenomena

May 31, 2022

Topic: What happens before you click "submit" on a website?

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: Thousands of Popular Websites See What You Type

Jun 7, 2022

Topic: Relationship between guns and masculinity

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: Firearms and the Phallus: Using Guns to Reclaim Masculinity

Jun 14, 2022

Topic: Aging as a disease that can be cured

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: The "Benjamin Button Effect": Scientists can Reverse Aging in Mice

Jun 21, 2022

Topic: The Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: Parallel Worlds Probably Exist

Jun 28, 2022

Topic: Biosphere-2 as a test for space colonization

Facilitator: Clint Sprott

Reading: Wikipedia Article on Biosphere-2

Jul 5, 2022

Topic: Has Google's chatbox LaMDA achieved sentience?

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: Sentient? Google LaMDA feels like a typical chatbot

Jul 12, 2022

Topic: Ethical implications of gene editing in humans

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: Harvard researchers share views on future, ethics of gene editing

Jul 19, 2022

Topic: Cryopreservation

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: What is Cryogenic Preservation?

Jul 26, 2022

Topic: What historical period we would like to visit and why?

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: None

Aug 2, 2022

Topic: Machine learning

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: Could Machine Learning Fuel a Reproducibility Crisis in Science?

Aug 9, 2022

Topic: Chaos research by artificial intelligence

Facilitator: Clint Sprott

Reading: Artificial Intelligence Study of the System JCS-08-13-2022 (link removed pending publication)

Aug 16, 2022

Topic: The Webb telescope and any other astronomical conundra

Facilitator: Jim Lattis

Reading: James Webb Space Telescope

Aug 23, 2022

Topic: Cheap Complexity

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: The Anomaly of Cheap Complexity

Aug 30, 2022

Topic: Reaction to JWST photos

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: No, James Webb Space Telescope Images Do Not Debunk the Big Bang

Sep 6, 2022

Topic: The future of fusion (Postponed until next week)

Facilitator: Clint Sprott

Reading: Investors Flock to MIT Fusion Spinoff

Sep 13, 2022

Topic: The future of fusion

Facilitator: Clint Sprott

Reading: Investors Flock to MIT Fusion Spinoff

Sep 20, 2022

Topic: Evidence that our climate is changing

Facilitator: John Young

Reading: 5 Ways Climate Change Will Affect You and How is Climate Change Affecting the Weather Today

Sep 27, 2022

Topic: Is climate variability increasing?

Facilitator: Clint Sprott

Reading: Is Climate Variability Increasing?

Oct 2, 2022

Topic: Where is personal information stored?

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: Facebook Engineers Don’t Know Where They Keep Your Data

October 11, 2022

Topic: The state of higher education in the  USA

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: NYU Chemistry Petition and Comment on the Same

October 18, 2022

Topic: Unnatural selection

Facilitator: Jon Dahl

Reading: Why we are Living in an Era of Unnatural Selection

October 25, 2022

Topic: Reification and medicalization

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: Mental Health is Political

November 1, 2022

Topic: How to handle UFO/UAP reports

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: Many military UFO reports are just foreign spying or airborne trash

November 8, 2022

Topic: Fraud in science

Facilitator: Jon Dahl

Reading: Science has a Nasty Photoshopping Problem

November 15, 2022

Topic: History of the Second Amendment

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: Was the Constitutional Right ... and this Addendum

November 22, 2022

Topic: Dreaming

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: Wikipedia Article on Dream

November 29, 2022

Topic: VR and AI Connection to the Deceased

Facilitator: Terry Allard

Reading: AI's New Frontier and AI After Death

December 6, 2022

Topic: Finitude of life and the concept of a legacy

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: Thoughts on Life as Finite

December 13, 2022

Topic: Euthanasia

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: Wikipedia Article and NY Times Op Ed

December 20, 2022

Topic: Inertial fusion breakthrough

Facilitator: Clint Sprott

Reading: Nuclear Fusion Achieves Ignition