One of the most famous physicists of the 20th century, Richard Feynman liked comparing physics with the game of chess. You can view a nice video by him about this here. At least till the middle of 20th century, many physicists, including Feynman, maintained kind of reductionist viewpoint, that knowing the ultimate constituents of matter around us and laws of interaction of these constituents is the most important part of physics and rest is details. Even at present most of the physicists have the similar viewpoint. (I am really not in a position to debate over this point!)
But let us try to use the analogy with chess again. Most of us including I, understand all the rules of chess, how Bishop moves and so on. In fact its at all not difficult to learn these rules. But then does that mean that my understanding of chess is equal to Garry Kasparov's? In chess, even modern supercomputers face practically infinite possibilities and new surprises keep coming every day though the rules are same! This shows that physics or science in general does not end with finding "fundamental rules" at all. In fact we have only started to play the game! Just think about some of the systems we know about.. In a small volume of seed of the plant, somehow the whole information about the structure of giant tree is stored! At low temperatures, when many atoms are together, somehow they start behaving completely differently than a single atom, something which is called as Bose-Einstein condensate! Somehow from almost homogeneous phase at the start of the universe, today we see beautiful structures formed at all levels: from clusters of galaxies to individual planets! Though we know the laws of interactions of molecules to a very good degree, we still don't understand totally the mechanisms at work inside the living cells, let alone the whole organism. We don't understand how our brain works, perhaps the most spectacular object in our universe! We don't understand how to describe fluids when they become turbulent and we don't have good answers to big avalanches taking place in the economical world! We don't understand how something as remarkable as life could be formed on this very planet and we don't understand if we could explain morality using laws of quantum mechanics!
I hope that I could convince you that we have really just started to play the game and there is long long way to go about it. In the present series I will try to describe the particular way to approach the game, though there are several ways which sometimes look complementary and sometimes opposing. The way I am going to talk about is called "Theory of complex networks". In the very next article, I will start describing what is "complex network" and how many systems around us, called complex systems in general, can be described using this theme. So be ready for an exciting journey!
I would also like to have some feedback from you guys as how the series is going on and some suggestions too. :)