Nigel Goldenfeld's Group






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Welcome to Nigel Goldenfeld's Group's web site, part of Condensed Matter Theory in the Physics Department at the University of Illinois. Nigel is also part of the Biological Physics group, and leads the Biocomplexity Group at the university's Institute for Genomic Biology.

We mainly study how patterns evolve in time, be they snowflakes, the microstructures of materials, the turbulent flow of fluids, geological formations, or even the spatial organisation of microbes. The scope of our work covers mainstream condensed matter physics, materials science, quantitative biology, applied mathematics and nonequilibrium pattern formation.

Our other focus is on emergent states of matter: the new laws of physics that arise in a system, due to the collective behaviour of its parts (atoms or organisms). Superconductivity is one example; the complexity of living organisms and ecosystems is another. We are currently engaged in a NASA-funded multi-institution, multidisciplinary effort to explore the how extant living organisms reveal fundamental and universal principles of life, and to understand better the evolution of life prior to the Last Universal Common Ancestor, over 3.8 billion years ago.

A non-technical description of our work in biocomplexity and the origin of life can be found here.

Here is a slightly expanded version of our manifesto "Biology's next revolution", which appeared in Nature 25 January 2007.

A non-technical description of our research into geophysical pattern formation and microbial ecology at Yellowstone National Park can be found here. The Yellowstone time-lapse movie download page is here.

A non-technical description of our research into turbulence in pipes and in two-dimensional soap films is here.

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