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Are we more than just our molecules? Pitt conference to investigate

The Robert and Sarah Boote Conference in Reductionism and Anti-Reductionism in Physics to be held April 22-23

University of Pittsburgh

Whether you're talking about a city made up of millions of people or a droplet of water made up of millions of molecules, to understand the whole entity, you need to use statistical analysis. But talking about cities and droplets as entities, they seem to take on new properties that weren't there before, begging the age-old question: Is the whole somehow greater than the sum of its parts?

A panel of physicists and philosophers of physics will examine this question as the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Philosophy of Science (CPS) hosts the Robert and Sarah Boote Conference in Reductionism and Anti-Reductionism in Physics April 22-23 in Room 817R of the Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

"The way we all learned it in high school science, common facts about the winds and water droplets are simple reductions of hugely complicated facts about many molecules interacting-all that is left to figure out are the details," says John Norton, Pitt professor of history and philosophy of science and director of CPS. "Yet when we try to pin down those details, the problems so multiply that some philosophers and physicists now think this reductive view might just be wrong."

The conference is sponsored by Robert and Sarah Boote. Robert Boote is a partner in the firm of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, in Philadelphia. He earned the Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry at Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences and the J.D. degree, cum laude, at the University's School of Law, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and comment editor of the University of Pittsburgh Law Review. Boote has been an invited lecturer on legal ethics at national conferences, including the Affordable Housing Forum of the American Bar Association, where he addressed conflicts in transactional matters.


For more information on CPS and the Boote Conference, visit

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