Emergent Properties Emergent properties are properties that come about when smaller components combine together to form a large unit that works together for a common purpose. The idea of emergent properties is based on the fact that the whole combined unit is more efficient than the sum of all of the units. These properties cannot be seen when the organisms are separated from one another, the organisms must be together for the properties to take effect.
Emergent properties have come about for the fact that when combined, these organisms can perform much more complex and advanced tasks that the organisms would not be able to complete on their own. In nature we see many emergent properties arise from evolution. When birds branched off from reptiles during their evolution, they developed feathers instead of scales. These feathers do not enable flight on their own, however when combined to form a wing they become much more efficient.
When these two wings come together to form a pair of wings the result is an extremely efficient form of transportation that is not only light but also water resistant. Another example of emergent properties would be evident in our brain. Which each brain cell does not possess much computing power, however when billions of them are combined together, the result is a very efficient computing unit that can provide us with such things as thoughts emotions and character. Each brain cell alone would not be able to do these things.
Emergent properties exist all around us and we even display some of these properties. One example of emergent properties would be the collaboration of many human beings. Separated, our minds are powerful, but nearly limited. Once combined we can collaborate with each other and perform many tasks efficiently, such as running a county, for example. It is not a coincidence that dictatorships are notoriously unsuccessful. There are also many emergent properties that exist beyond living things. For example when you have a hurricane, essentially all you have is air and water at various different temperatures.
The randomness of this collection of air produces a large air mass that has a specific circular motion which is very powerful and devastating to anything that comes into contact with it. The air itself and the water vapor would not be able to cause this force on their own. It is the random order that makes this hurricane so powerful and hard to predict. Another example of emergence away from biology is currency. Currency or money came about as people wanted to trade with one another, but had no medium to do so.
Alone, a single person would not need money. It is only useful and evident as many people come together to form a group. Without this group the money would have no value because it’s value is determined by people who are willing to trade with it. In conclusion emergence is evident throughout nature and even past it. It is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the understanding of communities and ecosystems where it be in living organisms or beyond biology.