Sarah WolfIn human thermodynamics, Sarah Wolf (c.1978-) is a German mathematical economist noted for her co-organization efforts of the 2011 “Social Energy” workshop, on the subject of an inquiry about "social energy", held during the European Conference on Complex Systems, Vienna, in which she elaborated her ideas on a theory of "social energy landscapes" in terms of gravity-like potential functions.

On 19 Mar 2013, to add disclaimer to her "social energy" position, Wolf edited her own Hmolpedia article, removed her photo, and added the following statement:

“This site has been created without agreement of Sarah Wolf, who does not see her work about a social energy concept as being part of ‘human thermodynamics’.”

This would seem to put her in the category of a "objector" to human thermodynamics, as defined by English physicist C.G. Darwin in 1952, though her reasons at this point seem a bit blurry?

Workshop overview
The "Social Energy" workshop focused on the the following topics—a two cultures type of seminar: [1]

The workshop included a talk by Christopher Watts on “Human Energy Concepts in the Social Sciences and How to Model Them”, Karolina Safarzynska on “Energy: a Missing Dimension of Evolutionary Models of Industry Dynamics”, Jean-Philippe Bouchaud on “Modelling Cooperativity and Sudden Shifts: Some Ideas from Physics”, and a collective talk by Nicholas erony, Claudio Tessone, Barbara Konig, and Frank Schweitzer on “From Individual Energy to Collective Behaviour in Animal Populations”. [5]

In the third of the above bullet points, i.e. "grasp and measure", Wolf digs into the newly-forming subject of human thermodynamic instruments. In the last of these, i.e. "which mathematical tools", a venture in this direction concerns research into the historical underpinnings of mathematical thermodynamics, particularly the mathematical proof and origin of Euler reciprocity relation in respect to the indicator diagram, the Clausius inequality, and French physicist Sadi Carnot's 1824 notion of re-establishment of equilibrium in the caloric as this has been upgraded by Clausius to that of the equivalence value of all uncompensated transformations.
Change potential (2010)
A 2010 “change potential” graph from Carlo Gaeger’s “From Detergents to Multiple Equilibria” GSDP discussion on social energy, used in the workshop. [6]

Social energy landscapes
See main: Social energy landscapes
In a 2011 posting about the origin of the social energy discussion, Wolf stated the following about social energy landscapes: [3]

“The idea of social energy arose in discussions at various GSDP related meetings. It is an analogy that suggests to describe social systems using some mathematics applied when speaking about energy in a physics context.

One example is a so-called potential function [see: thermodynamic potential and potential], used to describe the behaviour of a dynamical system. One can imagine the system’s state as a particle that moves around in the “potential landscape” [see: energy landscape] driven by the force of gravity and some random perturbation. The potential function provides the form of the landscape, and gravity tends to pull the particle towards the lowest places within the landscape. However, due to the perturbation the particle may also move upwards, and can thus transit from the basin of attraction of one local minimum to another one. This behaviour seems useful for describing economic systems that often stay close to one “equilibrium” for a long time but may also experience major shifts, which could be interpreted as transitions to different equilibria. By analogy, the landscape given by the potential function could be seen as a “social energy landscape”.

What exactly this social energy landscape, or the term “social energy” itself, represents, and how it can be described mathematically in more detail, are open questions. Also, it is yet to be found out how far this analogy carries and what can be learnt from investigating it.

Since quite a few people involved in previous discussions are part of the GSDP network, I propose to continue discussing this topic here. Of course, others are kindly invited to participate in the discussion as well. Apart from the discussion of concepts and possible models as regards content, this webspace might also be a convenient place to exchange ideas on the possibility to organise workshops or other meetings, submit texts, or grasp other logistic opportunities to further develop research on the topic.”
Free energy landscape (2000)
South African physical chemist Adriaan De Lange's 2001 free energy landscape of evolution, employing a mixture of chaos theory, Prigoginean bifurcation theory, order-disorder logic, time (past vs future), free energy barrier, path functions, and discussions of high and low values of entropy change. [4]

This discussion of “social energy landscape”, of course, brings to mind the 2001 human free energy theories and work of South African physical chemist Adriaan de Lange, such as shown adjacent. [4]

Wolf completed her PhD in 2010, with a thesis on “From Vulnerability Formalization to Finitely Additive Probability Monads” at the Free University of Berlin, on the mathematics of climate impact theory. [2] Wolf currently is doing post-doctoral research on a “Model of the German Economy” at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany.

1. (a) Social Energy Workshop (2011) –
(b) Wolf, Sarah. (2012). “Social Energy: a Useful Concept for Analyzing Complex Social Systems”, Dec 22,
2. Wolf, Sarah. (2010). “From Vulnerability Formalization to Finitely Additive Probability Monads” (abs), PhD dissertation, Free University of Berlin.
3. Wolf, Sarah. (2011) “Re: Re: Social energy”, Jun 06, –
4. De Lange, A.M. (2001). “Fitness Landscape and other Landscapes” (threads: LO27222), 09/03/01 –
5. Wolf, Sarah. (2011). “Social Energy: a Useful Concept for Analyzing Complex Social Systems”, Workshop Report of the GSDP Workshop as a Satellite Meeting at ECCS’11 September 14th.
6. (a) Jaeger, Carlo C. (2010). “From Detergents to Multiple Equilibria”, Dec 12,
(b) Wolf, Sarah. (2011). “Social Energy: a Useful Concept for Analyzing Complex Social Systems”, Workshop Report of the GSDP Workshop as a Satellite Meeting at ECCS’11 September 14th.

External links
Sarah Wolf (faculty) – Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact.
Sarah Wolf (user profile) –

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