Santa Fe Institute

SFI News

April 20, 2015, 1:40 p.m.

Experts ask whether genes and languages should be studied together

Experts have gathered at SFI this week to explore whether human languages, passed culturally from generation to generation, and genes should be studied as a co-evolutionary process -- and how scientists might begin to do that.

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April 20, 2015, 1:52 p.m.

May 30 event in Santa Fe: Creative collaboration in art and science

Scientist Mirta Galesic and artist Raven Chacon present "Creative collaboration in art and science," the fourth annual Chaos to Complexity discussion Saturday afternoon, May 30, in Santa Fe.

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May 13, 2015, 1:01 p.m.

Addressing the 'wicked' problem of sustainability through the complex systems lens

Journal of Industrial Ecology

In an article for the Journal of Industrial Ecology, SFI’s Luís Bettencourt and Christa Brelsford take a complex systems perspective on the problem of sustainable development, describing differing scientific approaches to its exploration.

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April 20, 2015, 11:41 a.m.

Working group asks what higher math can do for computer science

Computer scientists have barely scratched the surface of what higher math might offer their field, so two SFI scientists are hosting a meeting of experts this week to dig a little deeper.

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May 18, 2015, 11:02 a.m.

Why so many sperm? More 'searchers' may be needed to overcome high mortality rate

Physical Review Letters

Research by SFI Professor Sid Redner and fellow physicist Baruch Meerson suggests that nature might be relying on large numbers of sperm to solve the "search problem" of fertilization.

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April 20, 2015, 11:54 a.m.

Working group explores ways to understand 'nature's flash mobs'

Researchers are at SFI this week examining ways to understand synchrony – when seemingly unconnected subpopulations of a species rise and fall in unison.

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May 3, 2015, 11:09 a.m.

Congrats to teacher Dave Brooks and ten high school seniors selected for SFI's High School Prize

In a ceremony Wednesday evening in Santa Fe, SFI awarded science teacher Dave Brooks and ten high school seniors the Institute's 2015 High School Prize for Scientific Excellence.

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April 27, 2015, 2:58 p.m.

Two Project GUTS graduates win New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

SFI congratulates Katelynn James and Meghan Hill, both graduates of SFI’s Project GUTS program, who have won the 2014-2015 Supercomputing Challenge. 

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April 29, 2015, 11:40 a.m.

Could mobile phone data help bring electricity to the developing world?

In a new study, a team of researchers used anonymized cell phone data to assess the feasibility of electrification options for rural communities in Senegal, demonstrating a potentially valuable approach to using data to solve problems of development.

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May 3, 2015, 10:15 a.m.

David Krakauer on how ideas and culture co-evolve

In Nautilus, incoming SFI president David Krakauer explores how science and culture co-evolve, using five short accounts of some of the surprising ways scientific thought progresses.

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May 4, 2015, 3:22 p.m.

Audio: What biology might teach us about computers and programming

Santa Fe Radio Café

In an interview on the Santa Fe Radio Café, SFI External Professor Stephanie Forrest explores how computer software and hardware systems might benefit from a studied imitation of living systems.

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May 3, 2015, 10:33 a.m.

All about the Santa Fe Institute, all in one place

SFI's 2014 Annual Report is now available online. Here are some of the surprising tidbits you will find between its covers...

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April 20, 2015, 11:28 a.m.

SFI selects four new Omidyar Fellows for 2015

The Santa Fe Institute has selected four early-career researchers for its prestigious Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellowship. Meet the new fellows here.

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April 20, 2015, 12:40 p.m.

Taming the macrohistory macrodata beast

A meeting at SFI this week aims to get macrohistorians' heads around all the data available today about past human societies in hopes of gaining a common framework useful to all.

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April 30, 2015, 10:42 a.m.

Cormac McCarthy's Santa Fe Institute

What happens when an award-winning author is asked to write a mission statement…and then read it on camera? Watch the video.

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April 29, 2015, 10:22 a.m.

Matthew Jackson elected to National Academy of Sciences

SFI congratulates External Professor Matthew Jackson on his election this week to the National Academy of Sciences.

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Aug. 28, 2014, 10:56 a.m.

The language of invention: Most innovations are rephrasings of past techs

Journal of the Royal Society Interface

Most new patents are combinations of existing ideas and pretty much always have been, even as the stream of fundamentally new core technologies has slowed, according to a new study led by SFI researchers.

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March 23, 2015, 11:57 a.m.

Species’ evolutionary choice: Disperse or adapt?


Dispersal and adaptation are two fundamental evolutionary strategies available to species given an environment. Generalists, like dandelions, send their offspring far and wide. Specialists, like alpine flowers, adapt to the conditions of a particular place. 

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March 18, 2015, 1:56 p.m.

Study: Polarization in Congress is worsening… and it stifles innovation


A new study confirms quantitatively that partisan disagreements in the U.S. Congress are worsening and that polarization is harmful to policy innovation.

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April 14, 2015, 9:45 a.m.

What clues do paleo food webs hold for modern ecosystems?

American Scientist

Modern, historical, and paleontological food webs share a remarkable degree of structural similarity, suggesting we might be able to predict and even influence modern food web responses to perturbations such as species extinctions, according to two SFI scientists in American Scientist.

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Dec. 10, 2014, 1:13 p.m.

David Krakauer selected as SFI's next president

David Krakauer, an evolutionary theorist and director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been selected as the Santa Fe Institute’s next president. He plans to join SFI on August 1, 2015.

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Public Events

All Events

“Where brilliant, creative people gather to ask big questions, move beyond conventional thought, develop and test general theory, and come up with insightful solutions to hard problems.”

– SFI Vice President for Science Jennifer Dunne
“SFI offers a unique intellectual environment that constantly seeks to dismantle boundaries of any kind.”

– SFI Vice President for Science Jennifer Dunne
“At SFI, economists, biologists, archaeologists, and physicists all not only talk to one another but actually collaborate.”

– Mary-Charlotte Domandi, host and producer of the Santa Fe Radio Cafe
“When I think about the world of science, when everything is going down the tubes and when ignorance is on the rise, if you could save one place that might start discursive thinking all over again, it would be the Santa Fe Institute.”

– SFI donor Eugene Thaw
“SFI’s theoretical insights will lead us to solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing our species and our planet today.”

– SFI President Jeremy (Jerry) Sabloff
“SFI understands the right question is just as important as the right answer.”

– Russell Gonnering, MD
“SFI will change the world by changing the way people think. We bring to people an entire landscape of problems that people haven’t considered before.”

– David Krakauer, incoming SFI President
“Scientific work at SFI is always pushing creativity to its practical limits. We always court a high risk of failure. Above all we have more fun than should be legal.”

– Author and SFI Trustee Cormac McCarthy
“Big-idea boot camp.”

– Newsweek
“A sort of Justice League of renegade geeks, where teams of scientists from disparate fields study the Big Questions.”

– Rolling Stone
“An eclectic collection of intellectual firepower gathered on a hillside above Santa Fe.”

– The Albuquerque Journal
“I’m here because I like science, and this is a fun place to spend time. There’s good craic [Gaelic for 'lively conversation'].”

– Author and SFI Trustee Cormac McCarthy
“America’s smartest lunch”

– The Daily Beast
"You don't come here to get an answer to something. You come here to understand things in a different way."

– SFI Chair Emeritus Bill Miller in the Wall Street Journal
“The environment creates a certain electricity…Part of the interest is not knowing where the borders are.”

– Actor, author, and playwright Sam Shepard
“Pure bliss. Everything I hoped academia would be as a graduate student.”

– Novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein
“It’s a spa for the brain, because you treat your brain like you have never treated it before.”

– Hamid Benbrahim of TD Ameritrade
“The coming together of the physical beauty outdoors and the intellectual excitement indoors made an indelible impression on me.”

– Michael Mauboussin, Managing Director, Global Investment Strategies, Credit Suisse, and Chairman, SFI Board of Trustees
“A transdisciplinary think tank that aspires to be a kind of intellectual utopia.”

– Newsweek
“SFI is one of the world’s most unique think tanks, famous for pioneering and popularizing the science of complexity.”

– Science writer David Kushner
“It’s impossible to do what we do without an environment so rich and diverse and haphazard.”

– SFI Professor Luis Bettencourt
“SFI is an aberration on the intellectual landscape, a modern version of Plato's academy.”

– Arizona State University President Michael Crow
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