Dr. Prof. Arto Annila, physicist

Research interests


Since 2001 I have been motivated to look for a general principle of nature that explains why nature is rich but not random in diversity. Namely, we find the same patterns all over; sigmoid sum curves of skewed distributions, logarithmic spirals, and even chaotic courses follow mostly straight lines (power laws) when data are plotted on log-log scales. This Grand Regularity makes no distinction between living and non-living or microscopic and cosmic or innate and artificial.

The universality implies the unity of nature. In accordance with ancient atomism, I speak for the renowned notion that everything is made of quanta of light. Thus, while an observation could be interpreted by a discipline-specific model, all observations should logically be comprehended by the same principle (see papers).


The principle of least action was already early on thought of making sense of complex just as of simple phenomena. It says, the difference in energy of any kind levels off in the least time. So, a step down in free energy is an irreversible step forward in time.

The universal principle derived from statistical mechanics of open quantized systems explains the aforementioned universal patterns. It reveals that evolution is inherently a non-determinate and path-dependent process yielding history.

Processes as flows of quanta will all by themselves search by variation and naturally select those ways and means, such as species and societies or gadgets and galaxies or behavior and business, to consume free energy in the least time. Eventually, when the system attains balance with its surroundings, no new property will emerge and no old one will vanish.


By immersing in specialties, science supplies us with detailed information, and unraveling universalities endows us with insight and thorough understanding. Indeed, as our delusions of uniqueness have narrowed, our worldview has widened. As apparent from my papers and talks, as well as from my book, many phenomena, puzzles, and paradoxes can be comprehended by the least-time principle.

We live in the middle of
everything — everything
is quanta of light.





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