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Florin Munteanu1 Constantin Udriste2, Dorel Zugravescu1 1 UNESCO Chair in Geodynamics - Romania 2 University Politehnica of Bucharest

udriste@mathem.pub.ro, florin@geodin.ro, dorezugr@geodin.ro Abstract: Usually, e-learning is centered on a discipline without laboratories. Our intention is to extend this point of view to multi-user laboratories in the Complexity Science context. The Complexity Science is a framework joined and combined with those resulting from C&IT methodology. In this paper we formulate our concepts and results, looking for coworkers in a NEXUS EUROPEAN PROGRAM. Keywords: complexity science, e-learning, e-content, knowledge generation, remote online laboratories, continues learning, personal laboratory, learning by discovery. market demand that is continuously changing. Everything is being sped up since we can communicate, simulate, project in teams spread all over the world (teleworking), we can manage an enterprise from a distance, we can control an entire technological flux using only a few people, we can, we can To use in practice this enormous potentiality, we need to educate people to understand and use, in a creative and innovative way, the new resource and opportunity in the 3rd Millennium: Information. The increase of the ability to process information associated with the specialization and growing complexity of certain biochemical structures physical support of processing can be considered a profound characteristic of the universe we inhabit. From the simple amoeba to the multicellular systems that have the capacity to interact more and more efficiently and intelligently with the environment, we reached the human being and its capacity to reflect Reality through calculus and formal models. In this evolution process we can see a permanent restructuring of the substratum, restructuring that takes place under the information processing pressure, substratum that becomes more and more sensitive, reactive, intelligent and efficient in relation with the environment. This observation can be also extended to the level of artifact evolution. The appearance of the computer and the use of intelligent

1. Introduction
The Informational society has more and more participation all around the world and the effect felt by the population is nothing more than a forerunner of a socio-cultural and economic metamorphosis that has not been known before in human history. Developed on a global scale and integrating different cultures, the metamorphosis takes place under the pressure of continuous acceleration of processes of all kinds, acceleration imposed by the very intimate nature of an ordinary artifact: the computer and the IT&C development. Not so long ago a persons main concern was to pile up material products and to build tangible objects that would last. The appearance of the electronic Memory and the Processor gave him the possibility to store and creatively amplify the results of the brightest Mind. He could adapt and simulate reality in a more precise way and he gave a different meaning to the word Information. Becoming the main power and value resource, the information enabled Virtual Prototyping, the construction of Virtual Instruments, basically a product-dematerialization process a good thing from an ecological perspective, but at the same time leading to the need of important social changes. Many trades are no longer required, there is a continuous spring of new trades, and therefore there is an acute need of adapting an individuals knowledge to the

programs for the design of integrated circuits enabled a drastic reduction of used space (miniaturization), led to reduced energy consumption, basically leading to an increase of computing power, of energetic density in less material quantity. The very act of processing seems to be the cause able to modify both the context and the substratum, thus contributing to the acceleration and development of everything that surrounds it or that it comes into contact with. The continuous increase of the processing capacity seems therefore to be a universal process, independent from material and unlimited in time. [1]. However, carefully analyzing history, and especially the crisis in the IT industry development, we can notice that nothing could change the exponential character of Moores law [2], neither the world economic crises, the wars (Vietnam, Gulf), the economic conflicts between the great powers, nor the technical or technological barriers. In other words, we can suppose that if nothing could change this development so far, this tendency would stay the same, the crisis being outweighed by the occurrence of an event with major significance for humanity: a discovery that would mark an epoch, a paradigm change with unexpected consequences. A change of substratum, of computing concept, a discovery regarding light or some material intelligence characteristics will be able to form a new approach that would take Moores law further. What this metamorphosis of the human being capable to use coherently such a technology would look like, how it would fit in a social life, and which its cultural products would be, are all important subjects that require setting up institutes for prospective science and futurism, institutes that would benefit both the public and the private sector. From this perspective we can say that the public-private partnership becomes essential for defining and delimiting future problems that can and have to be solved for good for the human beings benefit. Finally, we consider that the crucial problem that we have now, in order to find solutions for sustainable development in this turbulent socioeconomical environment, is to redesign the educational system in such a manner to be able

to enhance the awareness of the population about the core of the changes generated by the new paradigm of Complexity. This new conceptual frame (concepts, theories, models, methods, technologies etc.) and the power of international, interdisciplinary networks of scientist and engineers to generate knowledge, could be the basis for the new social structure, known as the Knowledge base Society.

2. About a science of Complexity

The Science of Complexity appeared due to the joint merger of various new fields that they have been born from new breakthrough in various areas: fractal geometry, the general theory of dissipative systems, Chaos Theory, synergetic sciences, cellular automata, genetic algorithms, intelligent agents, artificial life. A turning point also proved to be the foundation of the Institute for the Science of Complexity in Santa Fe by a group of physicists, among which were George Cowan, David Pines, Stirling Colgate, Murray Gell-Mann, Nick Metropolis. Thereafter, the rather loose collection of previous theories and models have become more coherent and organized in a certain structure that became known as the Science of Complexity, and which soon found numerous practical applications. The Science of Complexity changes drastically the approach of studying the reality and the surrounding environment: instead of using a reductionist and linear approach that provides analytical solutions, it introduced a holistic and nonlinear approach which could be modeled using cellular automata, neural networks or intelligent agents. In 1976 Ilya Prigogine, Nobel prize laureate for Chemistry in 1977, elaborated The Theory of Dissipative Systems, with which he became one of the pioneers in the field of selforganization studies [3]. The theory stipulates that order will appear spontaneously in systems that evolve far from thermodynamic equilibrium. This order appears as a result of a self-organization process that is strongly dependent on the energy fluxes present in the domain where this order, or structure, appears. This new entity acquires new and specific physical and behavioral properties. Thus, besides the link between energy and matter

established previously by Einstein, Prigogines theory makes a new and more subtle connection between energy and structure. Tree-like ramified structures, as well as self-similar and fractal objects found in Nature are examples of practical manifestations illustrating the dynamic interaction between energy and matter [4]. Bejans constructalist theory [5] formalized the relation between structure and the energy flux that keeps the dissipative system far from thermodynamic equilibrium, defining several notable laws regarding alometry [6], with a high degree of universality [7]. The structure of such a system is conserved for as long as the energy flow is maintained within certain operational limits. Exceedingly large variations above or under this operational range trigger specific restructuring mechanisms (phase transitions, bifurcations), which can be carried out in a very fast and abrupt discharge, or slowly, during a time interval. Since 1990, the geodynamic events in general and the seismic ones in particular have been analyzed from this new perspective. This new approach requires the modern researchers to understand the intrinsic interactive dynamics among the various blocks and sub-blocks that form the Earths crust in a seismically active region. Furthermore, it is also necessary to recognize and comprehend the very mechanisms of genesis and the long-term stability of this cellular structure capable to dissipate energy from a concentrated point-like source (focal point) to a much larger volume of matter. In this respect, this proposed project desires to explore the manner in which the specific approach of studying (from the perspective of the Science of Complexity) a geodynamical active region evolving far from thermodynamic equilibrium will influence its subsequent modeling, and consequently the choice of geophysical sensors used in that region to study it and their location. In 1987 Per Bak, Chao Tang si Kurt Wiesenfeld (the so-called BTW trio) discovered and formulated the Principle of Self-Organized Criticality, which highlighted another essential property of complex systems: their behaviour was extremely sensitive to the initial conditions and the history of the system, i.e. the succession of events to which it has been

subjected along its evolution since its appearance. A strictly deterministic and causal approach, as had been used classically in many physical sciences, is no longer efficient or suitable in these circumstances since the transfer function of the system is constantly changing and evolving together with, and as a result of, the interactions between the system and other external surrounding systems, at the same hierarchical level or situated above and under it, respectively. A part of the energy flux received by the system is retained in its substantial-radiative structure, gradually contributing to its cumulative storage until a critical state is reached, when a sudden energy discharge takes places. The alternation of numerous charge-discharge cycles of this type maintains the system in a state that is always relatively close to the critical point (i.e. it can be said that the critical state is very robust). In the immediate vicinity of a critical state, the systems sensitivity even to infinitesimal accidental fluctuations increases exponentially, which makes possible that utterly small variations of collateral factors could easily trigger large-scale energetic discharge processes that irreversibly modify the structure and behavior of the entire system. Such a behavior outlines once again the acute necessity to extend the study based on the Science of Complexity so that it would also examine the triggering factors of such catastrophic events. Moreover, it also clearly suggests once again the essential need of breaking with the classical approaches that are utterly incapable of analyzing such concepts and of grasping even the basic principles of such phenomena. Instead, this proposed project suggests the implementation of an entirely novel approach: building an original monitoring system and its corresponding data analysis & interpretation model, that are both capable to evolve in time together with, and in response to, the monitored Reality. The studies carried out by per Bak [8], and especially the generalization made by Wolfram [9], in the field of cellular automata has led to new applications: genetic algorithms, neural networks, intelligent agents, artificial life. All these disciplines coagulated into a new computational science whose main aim is to re-

create the genesis and the evolutionary dynamics of a real system in a virtual environment, in which other methods and tools are defined for investigation, monitoring and visualization than in the case of monitoring a real system. This enabled the scientists to replace the previous static modeling of dynamic systems using differential equations and systems of differential equations, i.e. using the so-called rigid models, with stable solutions expressed by continuous functions, that may be arbitrarily elasticized by adding stochastic terms that could extend the validity of the solutions in cases when the modeled system undergoes various fluctuations in its parameters. Thus, the modern trend is based on a deep understanding and application of the Science of Complexity and requesting an intelligent-evolutionary approach, in which the system is virtually generated within the model, starting from local interaction rules and going up the hierarchy, so that it can encompass all possible interactions. The end result is a conceptual leap forward, from the formal, mathematic, description with a limited predictability, to the intrinsic simulation of the system which can evolve in a virtual environment in a manner similar to that of the modeled reality. In 1975 Feigenbaum has made another major breakthrough that consolidated the creation of the Science of Complexity: the scenario of transition to chaos through successive bifurcations. Structuring a general deterministic Chaos Theory was also accelerated by other important contributions, such as the discovery of the two fundamental universal constants by Feigenbaum, the development and application of computational sciences for solving nonlinear systems of equations, understanding the behavior of a nonlinear system by analyzing its dynamics in the phase space, the discovery of fractal attractors and the generalization of bifurcation theory. According to the Chaos Theory, a chaotic system inherently exhibits sensitivity to initial conditions. In other words, two initially identical trajectories originating from a given point will grow apart with an exponential divergence if an infinitesimal variation exists between their initial trajectories. This fact is a

fundamental limit for the predictability of such systems beyond a certain limited time interval (temporal horizon). Chaos Theory has also been applied in electronic circuits, leading to the realization of chaotic oscillators Chuas circuit- [10] and enabling to formulate the concepts of chaotic resonance [11] and of synchronization using chaotic oscillators [12]. All these models and theories assert that a chaotic system always exhibits a few general common features: -There always is a clear rule, or pattern, for the process in which the system loses its stability; -The loss of stability can be studied separately and classified using specific evaluation methods and representation systems (the Lyapunov exponent, logistic maps, the phase space, attractors, strange attractors); -One can identify certain values for the initial condition(s) that are guaranteed precursors for the bifurcation points [13], thus defining (i.e. enabling to predict) the evolution towards a critical state of a chaotic system (generalizing this statement we may be able to tell whether a precursor is expected or not to appear in a chaotic systems behavior during its dynamic evolution); - By applying non-periodic perturbations of small magnitude one can, under certain circumstances, permanently maintain a chaotic system in a stable state, although dynamically it is situated in an unstable region of behavior. This control technique radically challenges and changes the entire concept of noise, as well as its role in identifying and maintaining the stability of a system; -The analog, or informational, interconnection of more chaotic oscillators with each other can, in special conditions, lead to the synchronization of all the oscillations. This is a key effect with crucial implications in understanding the coupling between complex nonlinear systems and the variability in their behavior predictability, with tremendous valuable potential applications for social, financial, economical, and other type of systems, and which is also employed in the socalled chaos communication [14]. We find to be necessary to insert in this paper a short review of the principal moments

in the aggregations of concepts and theories in what it is know today as Complexity Science just to point out the major difficulty in understanding those new concepts, the correlations between them, the differences between the classical, Newtonian approach and this nonlinear one. We entirely agree with Eve Mittleton-Kelly form London School of Economics: Complexity is not a methodology or a set of tools (although it does provide both). It certenly is not a management fad. The Science of Complexity provide a conceptual framework, a way of thinking, a way of seeing the World. To prepare the society and of course the new generation of scientists and researchers to be capable to understand this new way of seeing the World and to act creative in this new conceptual frame, we need new educational technologies, more close to: learning by discovering, learning by direct implications in real projects (experiments) in interdisciplinary teems, near senior researchers and professors from Universities , selfeducation in e-communities, based on elearning processes, using what we have define to be a Personal laboratory [15] . To act concrete in this direction, we start in 1998 an educational program labeled as NEXUS [15]. An important step in this program is the design and the implementation of so called multi-user laboratories for Complexity Science e-learning.

The NEXUS room: a space dedicated and equipped especially for lab experiments, documentation, courses, multidisciplinary dialogue and consulting, etc. (it is an interface between the students from a high school or an university and the teem of mentors, that guide the research activities in the NEXUS network) The activity in the room is carried out in groups based of affinity for a subject and not by age, (it is acceptable to be included in the group students for an other school or even master degree level ; in this way, we find out that the activity is more coherent, more project orientated, every age level having something to learn from the others and to give to the others). The main program is structured around various subjects chosen according to the local interests from the Open Projects database ( a list of annual themes proposed by the Scientific Council of the NEXUS program);

3. The NEXUS program

The NEXUS project starts from the premise that a well-asked question can initiate a specific cognitive process, able to arouse interest and curiosity and to motivate the effort of accumulating knowledge. For this reason, the program was conceived to stimulate young peoples ability to generate pertinent questions in the field of Complexity Science and also to find their answers through a process largely based on self-instruction, experimental research and communication with other students and researchers/instructors interested in the same topic. The novel and innovatively creative contributions brought by the NEXUS program are configured in a multi-component ensemble formed of: Foto 1
The Nexus environment a complex place dedicated to reveal the beauty of science

The complex teaching object (CTO) is a hardware/software synthesis that allows experimental multidisciplinary exploration of the processes and phenomena of interest, according to the topics selected from an Open Project. The CTO was designed in such a way that it specifically enables and stimulates creativity and formation of new abilities: attention, ability to correlate the knowledge gained during the course, initiative, collaboration, and communication within interdisciplinary teams, etc; This CTO is designed and

produced by a private Romanian company ASTech solutions ltd. (www.astceh.ro) under the supervision of the Scientific Council of the NEXUS program. In this way, everyone can see the entire cycle, form the need to the idea and the product, fact that contribute to a better understanding of the application of science in real live. More than that, some of the devices, verified to be useful for scientific education in a broader sense, became parts of some new scientific Kits of CONNECTUS class (a Personal Laboratory). These products are put on the market, creating so added value to the educational Nexus program.

Foto 2 The Connectus Personal lab

Teacher Up-grade: This is a part of the NEXUS program, designed to help teachers to up-date the knowledge according to the new subjects involved in a concrete Open Project. It consists mainly of intensive courses (including e-learning) for assimilating concepts and notions necessary

for the use of the infrastructure and the software that accompanies a CTO, for completing the curriculum with novelties (especially from the Complexity science), and for correlating the various primary knowledge elements through an integrating and multidisciplinary approach. The NEXUS room, specially designed and equipped for the message which the NEXUS program wants to deliver, enables: o Scientific documentation through the Internet network and through the NEXUS library for the major specialty topic of the school: biology, physics, informatics, etc. The NEXUS library holds magazines, books and electronic books. It becomes richer through donations, book purchases and especially through the enlargement of an Internet-acquired database. This database is filtered according to the schools specialty topic and is translated and multiplied locally (For this purpose a group of young participants enrolled in advanced English courses; the teaching activity acquires thus an objective of immediate general usefulness); o Experimental research that takes place in specially designed area, each comprising an experimental setup adapted to the topics chosen in the structuring stage of the NEXUS program. The computational system, part of the experimental setup, is able to ensure data processing, modeling of the studied phenomena, internet connection for data-sharing; o Meetings and discussions within the formed study groups, work meetings for elaborating projects concerning the high school, projects that would be submitted for financing (Ministry of Education, educational departments, City halls, sponsors, etc.); o Meeting personalities activating and wellknown in a field identical or similar to the schools specialty topic; o Conducting micro-courses for those who approached (or want to get involved in) a specific research topic, using also the video-conferences to involve professors form different countries.

In this framework, starting from 2002 [16,17], we have developed activities around topics such as: The heart: is it a chaotic oscillator?, Can stress be diagnosed by monitoring the neuro-muscular electric activity? Are plants biological sensors?, Technical diagnosis and the noise , The meteo-sensitivity and the neuronal calculator. Because of the multi-age structure of the Nexus teem, we had very good results, in spite of the complexity of the subject. More than that, we found out that, the fact that not even the researcher knew the answer, was the key factor of the coagulation of the theme around the topic, and in the same time, a very important motivational feature, with benefic influence in the teem building.

4. Multi-user laboratory for Complexity Science e-learning

It is a known fact the Romania has a unique geodynamical active aria: The Vrancea zone. The strong earthquakes having the epicenter in a very narrow aria, close to Focsani, the presence of some mud volcanoes, strong geological accidents easy to be seen at the surface, make this specific place a natural laboratory, good for experimental research in so called: the GAIA theory [18]. In the same time, it is already accepted that all geodynamical phenomena are complex, so it seem to be natural to use this place for a multiuser laboratory in geodynamics using the Complexity Science approach and the elearning process. As researchers in an academic research institute we try to understand the geophysical phenomena linked to the accumulations of mechanical stress and of the mechanisms that are responsible for an earthquake. Generally speaking, as a pragmatically objective, we try to improve the evaluation of the seismic risk of a certain geographical region. Such studies have had a new impetus due to the application of a very new set of theories and models that are all known as the Science of Complexity. After Mandelbrots introduction of the fractal geometry and the subsequent appearance and affirmation of the Chaos Theory and the Catastrophes Theory, seismic events have been reinterpreted as typical examples of

manifestations for the dynamics of nonlinear systems. Self-organization has quickly become the most important and often used concept in modeling earthquakes. Other studies, made using large databases that included any seismic events of magnitudes larger than 2 on the Richter scale, highlighted variations between intervals with acceptable or high predictability of the seismic events, and those in which such events seemed to have occurred randomly. This observation led to the conclusion that the degree of predictability itself for seismic events is a variable that changes in time. From this point of view, the earthquake was re-interpreted as an expression of the geocomplexity, and this new point of view reoriented the research in this area towards understanding complex phenomena. Specifically, this marked the beginning of a new stage in geosciences in general, and in seismologic research in particular, especially regarding the practical application of the main concepts, models, theories and methods provided by the new paradigm of Complexity. If one assimilates a seismically active region with a nonlinear complex and hierarchically structured system, then the following features can be deduced or assumed as characterizing this system: a) Each seismic event modifies irreversibly the systems structure, and for this reason a new re-assessment of the situation and re-adaptation of the analytical model has to be carried out permanently; b) Each seismic event discharges a specific amount of energy (recorded in earthquakes as the magnitude, e.g. on the Richter scale), and this energetic variation modifies the internal state of the system and provides totally new and different initial conditions for the newly started phase of charging. The immediate result of such a behavior is a much reduced predictability, yet not impossible; c) The energy discharged by each seismic event that 'resets' the local system is radiated/transferred to neighboring systems of equal or inferior hierarchical position. For this reason the accurate understanding of the evolution in time of a seismic region cannot be carried out without an initial thorough and multidimensional monitoring (at the same or

from a higher hierarchical level) using a network of various types of sensors; d) When the system is in the critical state preceding the seismic discharge, the triggering factors can alternate or combine with inhibiting ones, resulting in a reduced classic predictability of the seismic event. At the same time, this also highlights two necessary purposes (or requirements) for which a sensor network intended to monitor a seismically active region must be designed and set up: - capable to evaluate objectively when the monitored system (i.e. the seismic region) evolves in a critical state, and -closely monitor the low intensity processes that are resonant with the epicenter, and that could thus bring valuable information about how the triggering signal appears; e) The monitored seismic region is just another element of a larger and also hierarchically organized system (Gaia) [18], being coupled and interdependent on the interaction with other similar systems in this super-system. This means that other important data can be obtained by monitoring the energy exchange, and other types of exchanges, between adjacent and subordinated systems, both living or not; f) The changes in the structure of the system will always take place as a function of the variations in the fluxes of energy, information and matter. As such, these changes will obey universally valid laws (pattern, alometric constants) which can also be used in our analytical model that controls the system in order to characterize in real-time the evolution and behavior of the observed region. According to these observations, we can conclude that, monitoring this seismic zone with a complex network of sensors of different kind, we can collect and store real data, from a real complex system that evolves in time. So, designing a complex multi-user laboratory and put it in place in the epicenter of this unique geodynamic aria could be a very good opportunity for improving education in natural sciences (the entire Nexus network became capable to use real and in real time data to verify theoretical models or to bring some new experimental devices in this laboratory, to let it there for a time, to verify the capability of the

device to work accordingly to the purpose/ design).

5. Conclusion
In order to motivate the interest of the society and especially that of the youth in education, specifically in science & technology, is a difficult problem. The process of "lock-in" (which will also be referred to later) characteristic to a market economy has stabilized several careers that are nowadays considered financially attractive: show business and entertainment, advertising, sports, management, law school, all of them being characterized (or considered) as fast & certain carriers towards quick achievement of fame and fortune, generally based on native qualities of the person involved. The continuous long lasting effort, as well as the necessity to operate in an abstract framework on the basis of a formal language, leads to a dramatic decrease of the interest in scientific or engineering-related careers. This situation is even absurdly paradoxical given the more and more highly technologically oriented outline of nowadays world. Some of the causes responsible of this situation are: - The lack of recognition of the social importance of engineers and researchers & scientists in general, - The absence of efficient popularization of the satisfactions and results offered by such careers; - The contrast between the rewards imparted by Society, on one hand, to an innovator, or a scientist with two university degrees or a Ph.D. or other merits, and, on the other hand, to a soccer player, a movie star, a TV presenter, or even a simple participant to quasi-intellectual contests like The Wheel of Fortune or How to Become Millionaire, not to mention of those without even such pretensions, like Survivor. As a consequence, the difficulty to identify, educate and propel youngsters with the necessary skills and knowledge for a subsequent integration in our research activity in Complexity Science has intrigued us and

consequently motivated us to conceive and start the NEXUS program, dedicated to the identification and formation of youngsters with native skills for scientific research. Because of the vary good results in this program, we decide to design and implement in the Vrancea zone a geodynamic active aria in Romania a multiuser laboratory for helping the educational process in natural sciences in general and in Complexity Science in particular, using the elearning technology. Because of the potential of this multi-user laboratory (research in astro-biogeodynamic, environment, quality of life, biorhythms, interactions between living and nonliving systems etc. ) we hope to brink near us others researcher, professors or business orientated people, to develop an international, interdisciplinary multi-user laboratory dedicated to the studies of the Life in a Natural environment, using the Complexity paradigm.

6. References
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Retrieval in Neural Networks, Neural Networks, 1995. Proceedings., IEEE International Conference on Volume 6, Issue , Nov/Dec 1995 Page(s):3048 12. Strogatz. S., Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, Hyperion, New York, 2003 13. Munteanu, F., Zugravescu, D.,Ioana, C., Suteanu, C., On the possibility to use the Feigenbaum scenario in modelling certain geodynamic phenomena, Revue Roumaine de geologie geophysique et geographie, serie de Geophysique, Tome 38, 1994 14. Handbook of Chaos Control, Schll, E.,(Editor), Schuster, H.G. (Editor), Wiley,2007 15. F. Munteanu, C. Udriste, Learning about the complexity of nature by initiating young students in scientific research, Education and New Educational Technologies, Proceedings of the 4th WSEAS/IASME International Conference on Educational Technologies (EDUTE-08), 199-211, Corfu, Greece, October 26-28, 2008. 16. http://www.nexustsv.ro 17. http://nexusbz.ro 18. Lovelock, J. E.. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, Oxford University Press, Oxford NewYork, 1987