Conference 2008

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First International Conference on the

Evolution and Development of the Universe
Wed - Thu, 8 - 9 October 2008, Paris, France

Host Institution: Ecole Normale Supérieure, in collaboration with ECCO, the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group
and CLEA, the Center Leo Apostelat the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Click for a Silhouette Picture, With Attendee Names


Evo Devo Universe is a global scholarly research community exploring and critiquing models, hypotheses, and questions relating to the extent and interaction of evolutionary (or quasi-evolutionary) and developmental (or quasi-developmental) processes in the universe and its subsystems.

EDU 2008 provides an opportunity for those working across these topics to get together and exchange ideas, results and resources. The conference will present and discuss a selection of current work in the field, highlight new directions for investigation and provide small group and open space time for special interest group interaction and collaboration.

Publication content

The full EDU 2008 Special Issue, with commentaries and responses (4mb). Contributions are available for download separately from the table of contents below.

The Evolution and Development of the Universe. 355 pages, to appear in Foundations of Science, Special Issue of the Conference on the Evolution and Development of the Universe, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris 8-9 Oct., 2008.

Preface 5
List of contributors 7
Introduction, (DOI) 9
Acknowledgements 14
Part I - Physics and Cosmology
Scale Relativity and Fractal Space-Time: Theory and Applications, (DOI)
Laurent Nottale
          Scale Relativity: an Extended Paradigm for Physics and Biology?
          Commentary by Charles Auffray and Denis Noble
          Multiscale Integration in Scale Relativity Theory
          Response by Laurent Nottale
The Self-organization of Time and Causality: steps towards understanding the ultimate origin, (DOI)
Francis Heylighen
          Symmetries and Symmetry-breakings: the fabric of physical interactions and the flow of time
          Commentary by Giuseppe Longo
          Symmetry, Potentiality and Reversibility
          Response by Francis Heylighen
The Role of Energy Conservation and Vacuum Energy in the Evolution of the Universe, (DOI)
Jan Greben
Anthropomorphic Quantum Darwinism as an explanation for Classicality,
Thomas Durt
          On definitions of Information in Physics
          Commentary by Nicolás Lori
          Competing Definitions of Information versus Entropy in Physics
          Response by Thomas Durt
Application of Quantum Darwinism to Cosmic Inflation: an example of the limits imposed in Aristotelian logic by information-based approach to Gödel’s incompleteness
Nicolás Lori and Alex Blin
Part II – Biology
Towards a Hierarchical Definition of Life, the Organism, and Death
Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis
          The Issue of "Closure" in Jagers op Akkerhuis's Operator Theory
          Commentary by Nico van Straalen
          Definitions of Life are not only Unnecessary, but they can do Harm to Understanding
          Commentary by Rob Hengeveld
          Explaining the Origin of Life is not enough for a Definition of Life
          Response by Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis
Complexity and Evolution:a study of the growth of complexity in organic and cultural evolution
Börje Ekstig
Does Species Evolution Follow Scale Laws ? First Applications of the Scale Relativity Theory to Fossil and Living-beings
Jean Chaline
Part III - Philosophy and Big Questions
Development (and Evolution) of the Universe
Stanley Salthe
          Must Complex Systems Theory Be Materialistic?
          Commentary by Horace Fairlamb
          Friends of Wisdom?
          Commentary by Gertrudis Van de Vijver
          Materialism: Replies to Comments from Readers
          Response by Stanley Salthe
Possible Implications of the Quantum Theory of Gravity:An Introduction to the Meduso-Anthropic Principle
Louis Crane
          Two Purposes of Black Hole Production
          Commentary by Clément Vidal
          From Philosophy to Engineering
          Response by Louis Crane
Computational and Biological Analogies for Understanding Fine-Tuned Parameters in Physics
Clément Vidal
         On the Nature of Initial Conditions and Fundamental Parameters in Physics and Cosmology
          Commentary by Jan Greben
         Cosmological Artificial Selection: Creation out of something?
          Commentary by Rüdiger Vaas
          Fine-tuning, Quantum Mechanics and Cosmological Artificial Selection
          Response by Clément Vidal
The Meaning of Life in a Developing Universe
John Stewart
          What and that Humans do: Participating in the Meaning of life, a Contributor's Critique
          Commentary by Franc Rottiers
          Analysis of Some Speculations Concerning the Far-Future of Intelligent Civilizations
          Commentary by Clément Vidal
          The Future of Life and What it Means for Humanity
          Response by John Stewart

Scientific Committee

  • James N. Gardner, complexity theorist with a background in philosophy and theoretical biology. (Portland, OR, USA)
  • Carlos Gershenson, complexity theorist studying self-organization, evolution, ALife, and cognition. (Boston, MA, USA)
  • Richard Gordon, embryologist and theoretical biologist exploring development, genetics, and evolution. (Manitoba, Canada)
  • Francis Heylighen, systems theorist and cyberneticist focusing on the evolution of complexity. (Brussels, Belgium)
  • David Holcman, mathematician and computational biologist modeling microstructures in biological systems. (Paris, France)
  • Laurent Nottale, cosmologist and pioneering theorist in scale relativity and fractal space-time. (Paris, France)
  • John Smart, systems theorist studying accelerating change and evolutionary development. (Mountain View, CA, USA)
  • Clement Vidal, philosopher and systems theorist studying evolutionary cosmology. (Brussels, Belgium)
  • Peter Winiwarter, transdisciplinary researcher in complex systems, neural networks and evolution. (Boursay, France)

Submission Options

Extended Abstracts and Papers are the two options for initial submission to the scientific committee, to be considered for conference presentation.
Please use the online submission system to upload your abstract or paper.

  • Extended Abstracts are 500-1000 words (with brief References, not included in the word count).
  • Papers are 5000-15000 words, with a brief (100-500 word) Abstract and References (both not included in word count).

You will be notified by August 15th whether your abstract or paper are accepted. If your abstract/paper is accepted, you will have until September 29th to write the paper (abstract accepted) or do any recommended improvements (paper accepted). All those who are accepted are expected to attend the conference to present their papers and to receive in-person feedback. There are no conference fees for presenters, but lodging (a conference hotel is available) and travel costs are your own. Partial lodging dispensation funds may be available for some presenters, please apply only as needed.

Research Questions and Themes

Abstracts and papers considering evolutionary or developmental aspects of the universe and its subsystems are welcome in areas including: cosmology, biology, complexity theory, nonlinear mathematics, information theory, computer science, systems theory, philosophy, culture studies, and related disciplines. Please review Research Questions to understand the scope and focus of research questions in the EDU community. Papers are significantly more likely to be accepted if they clearly address one (or more) of these general questions.

Papers may address any of the following topical Themes, with implications for the universe as a system.

  • Anthropic bias and observer selection effects.
  • Anthropic, fine-tuning, and multiverse/ensemble models in cosmology.
  • Acceleration studies at the universe and subsystem scales.
  • Astrobiology, Fermi paradox, and SETI.
  • Complexity, emergence, ergodicity, and nonlinear science models with organic and computational features.
  • Computational and artificial life inspired models and analogies applied at the universe and subsystem scales.
  • Cosmology with organic features, such as cosmological natural selection (CNS) and CNS with intelligence (CNS-I).
  • Directionality, macrodevelopment, and convergent evolution in biological systems.
  • Evolutionary and developmental processes in evo-devo and theoretical biology.
  • Evolutionary and developmental processes in non-biological systems (physical, chemical, cultural, technological).
  • Hierarchy theory, modularity, and self-organization at the universe and subsystem scales.
  • Information theory of evolution and development, intelligence theory at the universe and subsystem scales.
  • Network theory and neural networks as a paradigm to explain self-organization of complex networks.
  • Non-equilibrium dissipative structures at the universe and subsystem scales.
  • Philosophy and systems theory with organic and computational features at the universe and subsystem scales.
  • Philosophical and epistemological status of cosmological and speculative theories.
  • Probability distributions, power laws, and statistical predictability at the universe and subsystem scales.
  • Scale relativity, scale invariance and self-similarity models at the universe and subsystem scales.
  • Self-reference, iteration, and recursion models at the universe and subsystem scales.
  • Systems models relating physical, chemical, biological, cultural, and technological (PCBCT) subsystems

Themes outside the scope of the conference and its community:

  • Non-naturalistic orthogenesis or teleology, intelligent design, supernaturalism, and theology.

Important Dates

  • 30th July – Deadline for the submission of initial abstracts and paper proposals (extended from 15 July).
  • 15th August – Notification of acceptance (accepted abstracts to be expanded to papers after 15 August)
  • 29th September – Deadline for the receipt of final papers
  • 8-9 October – EDU 2008 Conference, Paris, France.

Keynote Speakers

  • James N. Gardner, a complexity theorist and science essayist, with a background in philosophy and theoretical biology.
  • Francis Heylighen, a systems theorist and cyberneticist focusing on the evolution of complexity.
  • Laurent Nottale, a cosmologist and pioneering theorist in scale relativity and fractal space-time.
  • John Smart, a systems theorist and scholar of accelerating change.
  • John Stewart, an evolutionary thinker, author and evolutionary activist.
  • Clement Vidal, a philosopher and systems theorist studying evolutionary cosmology.


Please see the EDU 2008 Conference Program Page for the detailed daily agenda, and the PDF Program Guide with conference abstracts.

EDU 2008 is two days of presentations and Q&A, panel Q&A, coffee breaks and catered lunch, afternoon special interest groups and open space activities, and optional offsite no-host dinners and after-dinner conversation. List of talks:

  • An Algorithmic Info Theory Approach to Emergence of Order Using Simple Replication Models, Sean Devine (Abstract|Slides)
  • Application of Quantum Darwinism to Cosmic Inflation, Nicolas Lori, Alex Blin (Abstract|Slides Private)
  • Are Particles Self-Organized Systems?, Vladimir Manasson (Abstract|Slides)
  • Complex-Dynamic Cosmology and Emergent World Structure, Andrei Kirilyuk (Abstract|Slides)
  • Complexity and Evolution, Börje Ekstig (Abstract|Slides)
  • Complexity and Energy Density in Big History, Fred Spier (Abstract|Slides)'
  • Computational and Biological Analogies for Understanding the Fine-Tuning of Parameters in Physics, Clément Vidal (Abstract|Slides)
  • Does Species Evolution Follow Scale Laws ? An App. of the Scale Relativity Theory to Fossil Living Beings, Jean Chaline (Abstract|Slides Private)
  • Evo Devo Universe? A Framework for Speculations on Cosmic Culture, John Smart (Abstract|Slides)
  • Foundations of Physics, Tom Gehrels (Abstract|Slides)
  • Information Organization and Knowledge Evolution: The Case of Pharmaceutical Innovations, Carl Henning Reschke (Abstract|Not Presented)
  • Integration as a Fundamental Process in Cosmic Evolution and Science Development, Kris Roose (Abstract|Slides)
  • Quantum Mechanics and Environment-Induced Superselection Rules, Thomas Durt (Abstract|Slides)
  • Scale Relativity and Fractal Space-Time: Theory and Applications, Laurent Nottale (Abstract|Audio1(55min)|Slides)
  • The Meaning of Life in a Developing Universe, John Stewart (Abstract|No Slides)
  • The Role of Energy Conservation and Vacuum Energy in the Evolution of the Universe, Jan Greben (Abstract|Slides)
  • The String Landscape as Genetic Alphabet: The Subtle Virtues of a Non-Unique Cosmic Code, James N. Gardner (Abstract|Slides)
  • Towards a Hierarchical Definition of Life, the Organism, and Death, Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis (Abstract|Slides Private)
  • Universal Evolutionary Hierarchy: A Unified Network Approach, Peter Winiwarter (Abstract|Website)

Pre-prints of these papers are available for download in the Files section of EDU-Talk listserve. If you are a scholar interested in these issues, and/or will be a presenter or attendee at EDU 2008, please complete the very brief seven question EDU-Talk Subscription Form to join EDU-Talk and download presenter's papers.

Organizing Committee

Organized in collaboration with the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group (ECCO) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.


Dussane Room, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, 45 Rue d'Ulm, 75005 (Île-De-France), Paris, France. Continental breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks will be provided to attendees on both days. EDU 2008 is an academic event, closed to press. Journalists are welcome to attend, but no writeups please.

Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The city has a global influence on education, entertainment, media, fashion, science and the arts. Attendees will be warmly encouraged to spend Friday, Oct 10th sightseeing in self-convened, self-hosted groups. Lists of local options will be provided.


Presenters Free
Students (<100) Free*
Students (>100) 40 euros (60 USD)**
General Attendees     80 euros (120 USD)

'*' Current valid Student ID required at the door for free Student Rate, lunches and coffee breaks included.
'**' Rate for student registrants beyond 100, or without current ID to present at the door is 40 euros.

Lodging and Transport

A Car- and Room-Sharing Page is available for any attendees who wish to post carshare or roomshare offers or requests to economize lodging and travel at EDU 2008.

  • The primary conference hotel is Hotel Ibis Place d'Italie 25, avenue Stephen Pichon 75013 PARIS. Metro: Place d'Italie, (Lignes 5, 6, 7). Tel : (+33)1/44249485 Fax : (+33)1/44242070. See also the map. Rates begin at 100 euros per night. Hotel Ibis is 3.4 km (8 mins) by car or 2.3 km (25 mins) by foot from the conference venue (Ecole Normale Superiere). The metro is also close by, and at 2 metro stations distance from the ENS (Ligne 7, Censier Daubenton).
  • The alternate conference hotel, 1 km farther from the venue, is Accor's Formule 1, Porte de Chatillon. Rates begin at 50 euros per night. Formula 1, Porte de Chatillon is 3.4 km Formule 1 is a chain, so if this hotel is booked, others may be found by Google Maps (search "Hotel Formule 1 75005 Paris"). The easiest way to come to the ENS from there is to take the bus 38 at "Porte d'Orléans", direction "Gare du Nord" and to step out at "Val de grace" and walk a few minutes.

See also a map of the area of the ENS with nearby transportation options.

For information about public transportation from the Airports to Paris or within Paris (bus and subway lines), visit the RATP.


All EDU 2008 attendees must register online at:

EDU 2008 can accommodate a maximum of 200 attendees. Please register as soon as possible to secure your space!
Registration takes just a few minutes, and allows us to generate your badges, attendee list, send email updates, etc.

Non-EU Attendees Please Note: Due to the international epidemic of attempted visa, entry permit, and conference registration fraud, the conference organizers reserve the right to question any registration request, and to honor it only on receipt of valid proof of active research or industry participation in the technical field of the conference.

We look forward to great presentations, conversations, learning, and socializing with you in Paris this October!


For questions, please contact John Smart and/or Clément Vidal.


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