Melanie Mitchell joins Fractal Faculty

Melanie Mitchell’s life changed on the New York City subway. During her post-college stint as a high-school math teacher in Manhattan, every subway ride was an opportunity to conquer a few more pages of Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach. Reading it, she became fascinated with the way math, art, and music could help explain the emergent properties of intelligence. She realized she wanted to work with Hofstadter and become an AI researcher. 

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Sean Carroll joins Fractal Faculty

In 2011, Sean Carroll was sipping coffee on a boat traveling between Bergen, Norway, and Copenhagen, when it occurred to him that there was no better model for how life emerged from chaos than his favorite hot drink. Or, as he put it later, “why complexity increases with time and then decreases — in contrast to entropy, which increases monotonically.” The boat was hosting FQXi’s physicist conference, and when the theoretical computational scientist Scott Aaronson, who was on board, heard Carroll’s question, he fell in love with what he called Carroll’s beautiful idea.

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In memoriam: Richard Lewontin

Richard Lewontin, 92, a revolutionary geneticist, evolutionary biologist, and longtime member of SFI’s science board, passed away in his home in Massachusetts on July 4. 

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Research brief: Getting in synch on a budget

In a paper published in Nature Communications, incoming SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Yuanzhao Zhang and former SFI external faculty member Steve Strogatz report using temporal network models to show that allowing connection patterns to change over time makes it possible to synchronize a system more efficiently.

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Mandating vaccination could reduce voluntary compliance

Citizen opposition to COVID-19 vaccination has emerged across the globe, prompting pushes for mandatory vaccination policies.  But a new study based on evidence from Germany and on a model of the dynamic nature of people’s resistance to COVID-19 vaccination sounds an alarm: mandating vaccination could have a substantial negative impact on voluntary compliance.

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