Unifying Science and Engineering

There are several reasons why unifying principles in science and engineering are arising now:

• Scientists have increased depth of understanding of physical, chemical, and biological phenomena, revealing the fundamental common ground in nature.

• Significant advances exist at the interfaces among disciplines, in such a way that the disciplines are brought closer together and one can more easily identify the common principles, fractal patterns and transforming tools.

• There is a convergence of principles and methods of investigation in various disciplines at the nanoscale, using the same building blocks of matter in their analysis. Now it is possible to explore within human cell and neural systems.

• There is a need to simulate complex, simultaneous phenomena, and hierarchical processes where the known physico-chemico-biological laws are too specific for effective multiscale modeling and simulation. An obvious illustration is the requirements for modeling of many-body interactions at the nanoscale, where the laws are specific for each material, and variable within bodies and at the boundaries, at different environmental parameters, and for different phenomena.

The unifying science may manifest in three major ways:

• Unification of the basic understanding of various natural phenomena and bringing under the same umbrella various laws, principles, and concepts in physical, chemical, biological, and engineering sciences using cause-and-effect explanation. For example, in physics, there is an increasing awareness that weak, strong, electromagnetic, and gravitational forces may collapse into the same theory in the future (Grand Unified Theory). Mathematical language and other languages for improved communication at S&E interfaces and the system approach offer general tools for this process. Furthermore, unification of knowledge of natural sciences with social sciences and humanities forms a continuum across levels of increasingly complex architectures and dynamics.

• Observation of collective behavior in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, astronomy, and society. Integrative theories are being developed using the concepts of self-organized systems, chaos, multi-length and time-scale organizations and complex systems.

• Convergence of investigative methods to describe the building blocks of matter at the nanoscale. The nanoscale is the natural threshold from the discontinuity of atoms and molecules to the continuity of bulk behavior of materials. Averaging approaches specific to each discipline collapse in the same multibody approach.

Identifying and using unifying science and engineering has powerful transforming implications on converging technologies, education, healthcare, and the society in the long term.

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