Strengthening the second law of thermodynamics

For the past few years, SFI Professor David Wolpert and physicist Artemy Kolchinsky, a former SFI postdoctoral fellow, have been collaborating to better understand the connection between thermodynamics and information processing in computation. Their latest exploration of the topic, published in Physical Review E, looks at applying these ideas to a wide range of classical and quantum areas, including quantum thermodynamics.

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Making entropy production work

In a new paper published in Physical Review X, SFI physicists David Wolpert and Artemy Kolchinsky explore more realistic bounds on entropy production by considering how constraints affect Landauer’s limit. Their approach to understanding how much work can be extracted from a physical system could lead to a better understanding of the thermodynamic efficiency of various real-world systems, ranging from biomolecular machines to recently-developed “information engines” that use information as fuel.

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Some colleges are mammals, others are cities

A new study by Santa Fe Institute researchers examines how scale affects factors like tuition, research production, and teaching salaries in different categories of colleges and universities. The research, published in PLOS ONE, is the first to systematically look at interconnected scaling effects in U.S. higher education.

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New tool untangles complex dynamics on hypergraphs

Networks are a powerful model for describing connected systems in biological, physical, social, and other environments. As useful as they are, though, conventional networks are static and are limited to describing links between pairs of objects. In a paper published in Communications Physics, SFI Schmidt Science Fellow Yuanzhao Zhang and collaborators describe a new framework for simplifying the analysis of synchronization patterns in a wide variety of systems that include hypergraphs, temporal networks, and multilayer networks. 

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When does reputation lie?

Is merit necessarily achieved, or does social status influence whether a person succeeds or is trapped in a system?  Former SFI postdocs Eleanor Power and Marion Dumas, together with their colleague Jessica Barker, explore these questions in a new paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

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Orit Peleg: Living Orbs of Light (Aeon)

“In the still of the Tennessee night, my colleagues and I are watching thousands of dim little orbs of light, moving peacefully in the forest around us. We try to guess where the next flash will appear, but the movements seem erratic, even ephemeral,” writes SFI External Professor Orit Peleg in an op-ed about her research on firefly synchrony for Aeon

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Research brief: Social science for algorithmic societies

In a new perspective piece for Nature, SFI External Professor Tina Eliassi-Rad and her co-authors ask how social scientists can investigate algorithmically infused societies, which may require very different methodologies than social sciences have traditionally deployed. 

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Van Savage and Geoffrey West: Why do we sleep? (Aeon)

Much of modern sleep research has focused on the hormones, cells, and enzymes that regulate how we sleep, and what goes wrong when we can't sleep. But “all of this leaves unanswered the more fundamental question of why we need to sleep in the first place. What, in fact, is sleep’s function?” ask SFI's Van Savage and Geoffrey West in an essay for Aeon magazine.

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A statistical fix for archaeology's dating problem

Archaeologists have long had a dating problem. The radiocarbon analysis typically used to reconstruct past human demographic changes relies on a method easily skewed by radiocarbon calibration curves and measurement uncertainty. And there’s never been a statistical fix that works — until now.

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Juergen Jost on Information Theory and Consciousness

In a new opinion piece for Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, SFI External Professor Jürgen Jost tours some of the major philosophical and scientific debates around consciousness, including whether a human or animal brain automatically becomes conscious when it crosses a certain threshold of complexity.

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Study: As cities grow in size, the poor 'get nothing at all'

On average, people in larger cities are better off economically. But a new study published in the Royal Society Interface builds on previous research that says, that’s not necessarily true for the individual city-dweller. It turns out, bigger cities also produce more income inequality.

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SFI researchers publish new theory of life’s multiple origins

What if life evolved not just once, but multiple times independently? 

In a new paper, published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution, Santa Fe Institute researchers Chris Kempes and David Krakauer argue that in order to recognize life’s full range of forms, we must develop a new theoretical frame. 

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