Ilya Prigogine

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Ilya Prigogine

Born 25 January 1917(1917-01-25)
Moscow, Russia
Died 28 May 2003 (aged 86)
Brussels, Belgium
Nationality Belgium
Fields Physics, chemistry
Institutions Université Libre de Bruxelles
International Solvay Institute
University of Texas, Austin
Alma mater Université Libre de Bruxelles
Doctoral advisor Théophile de Donder
Doctoral students Adi Bulsara
Radu Balescu
Known for Dissipative structures
Notable awards Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1977)

Ilya, Viscount Prigogine (Russian: Илья́ Рома́нович Приго́жин) (25 January 1917 – 28 May 2003) was a Russian-born naturalized Belgian chemist and Nobel Laureate noted for his work on dissipative structures, complex systems, and irreversibility.


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early years

Prigogine was born in Moscow a few months before the Russian Revolution of 1917. His father, Ruvim Prigogine, was a chemical engineer at the Moscow Institute of Technology. Because the family was critical toward the new Soviet system, they left Russia in 1921. They first went to Germany and in 1929 to Belgium, where Prigogine received Belgian citizenship in 1949.

Prigogine studied chemistry at the Free University of Brussels, where in 1950 he became professor. In 1959, he was appointed director of the International Solvay Institute in Brussels, Belgium. In that year he also started teaching at the University of Texas at Austin in the United States, where he later was appointed Regental Professor and Ashbel Smith Professor of Physics and Chemical Engineering. From 1961 until 1966 he was affiliated with the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago. In Austin, in 1967, he co-founded what is now called The Center for Complex Quantum Systems. In that year he also returned to Belgium where he became director of the Center for Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics.

He was a member of numerous scientific organizations, and received numerous awards, prizes and 53 honorary degrees. In 1955 Ilya Prigogine was awarded the Francqui Prize for Exact Sciences. For this study in irreversible thermodynamics he received the Rumford Medal in 1976 and in 1977 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 1989 he was awarded the title of Viscount by the King of Belgium. Until his death he was president of the International Academy of Science and was in 1997 one of the founders of the International Commission on Distance Education (CODE), a worldwide accreditation agency.

[edit] Research

Prigogine is known best due to his definition of dissipative structures and their role in thermodynamic systems far from equilibrium, a discovery that won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.

[edit] Dissipative structures theory

Dissipative structure theory led to pioneering research in self-organizing systems, as well as philosophic inquiries into the formation of complexity on biological entities and the quest for a creative and irreversible role of time in the natural sciences.

His work is seen by many as a bridge between natural sciences and social sciences. With University of Texas at Austin professor Robert Herman, he also developed the basis of the two fluid model, a traffic model for urban networks, using Bose-Einstein Condensation theory in traffic engineering.

[edit] Other Work

In his later years, his work concentrated on the mathematical role of determinism in nonlinear systems on both the classical and quantum level. He proposed the use of a rigged Hilbert space in quantum mechanics as one possible method of achieving irreversibility in quantum systems. He also co-authored several books with Isabelle Stengers, including End of Certainty and the classical book La Nouvelle Alliance (The New Alliance).

[edit] The End of Certainty

In his 1997 book, The End of Certainty, Prigogine contends that determinism is no longer a viable scientific belief. "The more we know about our universe, the more difficult it becomes to believe in determinism." This is a major departure from the approach of Newton, Einstein and Schrödinger, all of whom expressed their theories in terms of deterministic equations. According to Prigogine, determinism loses its explanatory power in the face of irreversibility and instability.

Prigogine traces the dispute over determinism back to Darwin, whose attempt to explain individual variability according to evolving populations inspired Ludwig Boltzmann to explain the behavior of gases in terms of populations of particles rather than individual particles. This led to the field of statistical mechanics and the realization that gases undergo irreversible processes. In deterministic physics, all processes are time-reversible, meaning that they can proceed backward as well as forward through time. As Prigogine explains, determinism is fundamentally a denial of the arrow of time. With no arrow of time, there is no longer a privileged moment known as the "present," which follows a determined "past" and precedes an undetermined "future." All of time is simply given, with the future as determined as the past. With irreversibility, the arrow of time is reintroduced to physics. Prigogine notes numerous examples of irreversibility, including diffusion, radioactive decay, solar radiation, weather and the emergence and evolution of life. Like weather systems, organisms are unstable systems existing far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Instability resists standard deterministic explanation. Instead, due to sensitivity to initial conditions, unstable systems can only be explained statistically, that is, in terms of probability.

Prigogine asserts that Newtonian physics has now been "extended" three times, first with the use of the wave function in quantum mechanics, then with the introduction of spacetime in general relativity and finally with the recognition of indeterminism in the study of unstable systems.

[edit] Personal life

Prigogine was married to Marina Prokopowicz in 1961. They had two sons.

[edit] Publications

  • Prigogine, Ilya (1961). Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes (Second Edition ed.). New York: Interscience. OCLC 219682909. 
  • Prigogine, Ilya; Nicolis, G. (1977). Self-Organization in Non-Equilibrium Systems. Wiley. ISBN 0471024015. 
  • Prigogine, Ilya (1980). From Being To Becoming. Freeman. ISBN 0716711079. 
  • Prigogine, Ilya; Stengers, Isabelle (1984). Order out of Chaos: Man's new dialogue with nature. Flamingo. ISBN 0006541151. 
  • Prigogine, Ilya (1993). Chaotic Dynamics and Transport in Fluids and Plasmas: Research Trends in Physics Series. New York: American Institute of Physics. ISBN 0883189232. 
  • Prigogine, Ilya (1997). End of Certainty. The Free Press. ISBN 0684837056. 
  • Prigogine, Ilya (2002). Advances in Chemical Physics. New York: Wiley InterScience. ISBN 9780471264316. 
  • Editor (with Stuart A. Rice) of the Advances in Chemical Physics book series published by Wiley Interscience (presently over 140 volumes)

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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