Generating explanations for an emergent process: The movement of sand dunes

Lauren Barth-Cohen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The movement of sand dunes in the desert is an emergent process; the overall movement of a dune is influenced both by the random interactions among individual sand particles and by the process of wind adding and subtracting sand. People often misconstrued emergent processes as deterministic processes containing central causality. I present a case study of how one person, an adult, who was not an expert in physics, articulated and refined her explanation of the movement of sand dunes. She began with centralized causality but ended with an explanation containing the cogent emergent ideas. This case study is noteworthy in exemplifying the dynamic process of generating an explanation. The interviewee went through four different explanations at three different levels (macro, micro and mid-level) and concluded with an explanation that simultaneously addressed the movement of sand dunes at all three levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2010 Physics Education Research Conference, PERC
Pages77-80
Number of pages4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Event2010 Physics Education Research Conference, PERC - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Jul 21 2010Jul 22 2010

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
Volume1289
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616

Other

Other2010 Physics Education Research Conference, PERC
CountryUnited States
CityPortland, OR
Period7/21/107/22/10

Keywords

  • Clinical Interview
  • Complexity
  • Explanation
  • Fluid Dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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  • Cite this

    Barth-Cohen, L. (2010). Generating explanations for an emergent process: The movement of sand dunes. In 2010 Physics Education Research Conference, PERC (pp. 77-80). (AIP Conference Proceedings; Vol. 1289). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3515253