For several years, the Maya Working Group at SFI has brought together dozens of researchers from many disciplines to explore what it means to be Mayan, and what those insights say about modern culture. Those collaborations have yielded two books, and November 30-December 1, the group will reconvene to start talking about a third.
A new study published in Science suggests that E. coli bacteria may have a higher capability to evolve antibiotic resistance than previously believed. Researchers, led by Andreas Wagner, mapped possible mutations in an essential E. coli protein involved in antibiotic resistance and found that 75% of evolutionary paths led to high antibiotic resistance, challenging existing theories about fitness landscapes in evolutionary biology. This discovery may have broader implications for understanding adaptation and evolution in various fields.
The SFI Press has released two updated editions of books that illuminate the Odyssean life of Murray Gell-Mann, a co-founder of SFI and a Nobel laureate. A new printing of Gell-Mann’s The Quark & the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple & The Complex (originally published in 1994) appears in the SFI Press Compass series alongside the second edition of George Johnson’s acclaimed biography Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann & The Revolution in Physics (originally published in 1999).
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people were describing what they were thinking, feeling, and doing all over social media. And that fire hose of chatter, in Lauren Ancel Meyers’ eyes, is “a gold mine of data.” She’s bringing together a wide array of experts to more deeply understand, predict, and influence people’s behavior during a pandemic. The workshop, “Understanding, Tracking, Predicting, and Influencing Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Dynamics During Public Health Crises,” will be held at SFI November 8–9.
Venki Ramakrishnan, Nobel laureate best known for his work in the structure and function of the ribosome, took a step into uncharted waters when joining SFI last year as Fractal Faculty. Ramakrishnan sat down to talk about his work with SFI President David Krakauer. Here are clips of their conversation.
A new paper, published in Science Translation Dynamics by Samuel Scarpino and colleagues, suggests that integrating wastewater surveillance with disease monitoring can yield high-resolution health data. This approach has the potential to address climate-aggravated diseases and may revolutionize public health responses worldwide.
Creating a comprehensive global map of the complex web of supply chain connections involving millions of companies is essential for informed policymaking and addressing economic and societal challenges. In a recent paper in Science, SFI's Doyne Farmer and Stefan Thurner say this endeavor would require international collaboration among various stakeholders to integrate data and establish secure infrastructure.
SFI External Professor John Geanakoplos of Yale University and Ana Fostel of the University of Virginia were awarded the eighth Stephen A. Ross Prize by The Foundation for Advancement of Research in Financial Economics (FARFE) for their 2008 paper "Leverage Cycles and the Anxious Economy." The paper presents a groundbreaking analysis of financial booms and busts.
The Postdocs in Complexity Conference, launched in 2017 by SFI and the James S. McDonnell Foundation, provides a unique platform for early-career complexity researchers to collaborate, share insights, and build meaningful research networks. The conference has been instrumental in fostering interdisciplinary interactions among postdocs.
Researchers, including former SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Elizabeth Hobson, have introduced a novel mate choice concept called 'Inferred Attractiveness,' outlined in a recent publication in PLOS Biology.
SFI Professor Melanie Mitchell has been awarded the 2023 Senior Scientific Award by the Complex Systems Society for her exceptional contributions to various fields, including artificial intelligence and complexity science, as well as her efforts in educating a broad audience about complex systems. Mitchell's extensive work, including the creation of Complexity Explorer, has significantly impacted the understanding and promotion of complexity science and AI research.
While researchers are on the cusp of creating computer models for entire organs, precision healthcare applications using digital twins are still theoretical. Karen Willcox, an SFI External Professor and University of Texas aerospace engineer, is helping to convene a National Science Foundation-sponsored workshop at SFI, October 12–13, to make this new type of modeling technology a reality.
An international team of researchers has developed a new theoretical framework that bridges physics and biology to provide a unified approach for understanding how complexity and evolution emerge in nature. This new work on "Assembly Theory," published in Nature, represents a major advance in our fundamental comprehension of biological evolution and how it is governed by the physical laws of the universe.
As children, we learn categories through visual examples, verbal explanations, or both, and are often guided by “teachers” — perhaps a parent or other adult. In contrast, academic research has primarily studied non-pedagogical learning where there is no active teacher, and learning based on visual examples, omitting verbal-based category learning. A recent paper in Cognition by Arseny Moskvichev and co-authors aims to close this gap.
How much do city environments constrain human behavior? What aspects of a city’s organization affect the psychology and mental health of its inhabitants? Scientific theories anchored in psychology that explain how city spaces shape human behavior are sparse. Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow Andrew Stier works at the intersection of psychology and urban science to build theoretical models that examine how individuals and large groups adapt to and design city spaces.
That strong urge many people feel to abide by social norms even when it is individually harmful may have its roots in Darwinian fitness, according to a new study in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. The research uses agent-based modeling to provide an evolutionary mechanism that helps explain what keeps people cooperating even when no one is looking.
The study of mathematical models can provide insight into the structure and function of complex systems. However, even simple models can often be quite difficult to analyze, and meaningfully connecting models to real-world data is more challenging still. Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow Harrison Hartle’s research expertise is in mathematical and computational modeling. He is interested in advancing the study of generative models for complex systems with the goal of constructing practically applicable and meaningfully interpretable models for real-world data.
A September 27–29 workshop, the Complex Time General Conference on Immortality, meets to explore general patterns for lifespan across scales, from organisms, the mind, and behavior, to civilizations and star systems. The organizers hope to challenge preconceptions about immortality and, eventually, develop a general theory of longevity.
In the last two decades, researchers have reported success modeling high-dimensional chaotic behaviors with a simple but powerful machine-learning approach called reservoir computing. A new paper in Physical Review Research identifies limitations to reservoir computing and suggests a kind of catch-22 that can prove hard to circumvent, especially for complicated dynamic systems.