Stefan Helmreich

Elting E. Morison Professor of Anthropology, MIT

Panel: Unfolding Models

Sounding the Limits of Life Cover Image. Courtesy of Stefan Helmreich/Princeton University Press.
“Influenza Pandemic Chart” (Reeve 003143), 20 August 1919. From the Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Stefan Helmreich examines how biologists think through the limits of “life” as a category of analysis using both empirical and computational methods. Having begun this line of inquiry with his book on evolutionary simulation in Artificial Life, Helmreich has more recently studied marine biologists looking at marine organisms living in extreme ocean environments as well as astrobiologists thinking about life on other planets. As the convener of the “Unfolding Models” panel, he joins participants in asking after the ways in which phenomena in cosmology, epidemiology, and data science are shaped by scientists’ choices of scale and resolution in computer models

Biography: MIT Anthropology
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Symposium Schedule

Panel: Unfolding Models
Video Release: Friday, April 2, 2021 / 9:00am EST

Live Q&A: Monday, April 5, 2021 / 5:00–6:00pm EST

Related Works

“The Shape of Epidemics”

2020, Boston Review

Epidemic waves help to visualize and reason about COVID-19 data, but they also do much more—serving, in part, as an instrument for public health management and prediction.

Sounding the Limits of Life

2016, Princeton University Press

In the age of synthetic biology, rising sea levels, and new technologies of listening, notions of life, water, and sound stretch toward their conceptual snapping points, breaching the boundaries between the natural, cultural, and virtual. To listen to the playlist for Sounding, featuring a composition by Professor Evan Ziporyn, click here.

Silicon Second Nature

2000, University of California Press

Silicon Second Nature takes Artifical Life as a symptom and source of our mutating visions of life itself.