Have you no humanities?

SFI will soon launch a new “NEH institute,” Foundations and Applications of Humanities Analytics, to introduce early-career humanities scholars to new ways of studying culture with a wide range of computational tools.

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Joshua Epstein receives top award for social simulation

The European Social Simulation Association (ESSA) honored SFI External Professor Joshua Epstein (New York University) with its most prestigious award — The Rosaria Conte Award for Outstanding Social Simulation. A pioneer and world leader in agent-based modeling, Epstein was among the first scientists to use bottom-up simulation to replicate the statistical macrostructures seen in complex social systems. 

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First to forecast life above Venus

September 2020 brought a landmark discovery for astrobiology — the detection of a chemical compound in the clouds of Venus that is often associated with the presence of life. Though no SFI researchers were on the team that published the recent discovery of phosphine, one SFI scientist first forecast the possibility of Venusian life more than 50 years earlier.

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New book: Calling Bullshit

In their book, Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World, former SFI External Professor Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin D. West unpack the ease with which misinformation has leached into every corner of society and call for a healthy dose of skepticism in science, media, and everyday life.

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'Pandemic Pod' recreates SFI experience

This year, the annual postdocs’ gathering is a retreat not from SFI’s day-to-day calm, but to a recreation of it. Sheltered by strict safety protocols, the 'Pandemic Pod' is taking place in person.

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Tiny worlds reveal fundamental drivers of abundance, diversity

Ecology is traditionally a data-poor discipline, but tiny microbial worlds offer the quantity of data needed to solve universal questions about abundance and diversity. New research by Jacopo Grilli reveals the fundamental relationship between the environment and the species present in a microbial community and can be used as a starting point for investigating bigger systems.

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Size and sleep: New research reveals why little things sleep longer

Using data from humans and other mammals, a team of scientists including researchers from the Santa Fe Institute has developed one of the first quantitative models that explains why sleep times across species and during development decrease as brains get bigger. Crucially, the model identifies a sharp transition at around 2.4 years of age, where sleep patterns change in humans as the primary purpose of sleep shifts from reorganization to repair.

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Aeon: Origin story

Recently, a number of SFI scientists have brought new research frames to bear on the origin of life puzzle. Their work, and that of other leading researchers in the field, is highlighted in a recent Aeon essay.

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Aeon: Uncertain times

In an essay for Aeon magazine, SFI Professor Jessica Flack and SFI Davis Professor Melanie Mitchell describe how the COVID-19 pandemic prompts us to revisit the ways that complex systems retain stability in the biological world. By learning from biological systems, we can begin to shore up the vulnerability inherent in the complex systems that undergird human life.

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New model shows how voting behavior can drive political parties apart

If voters gravitate toward the center of the political spectrum, why are the parties drifting farther apart? A new model by SFI's Vicky Chuqiao Yang and her collaborators reveals a mechanism for increased polarization in U.S. politics, guided by the idea of "satisficing"-- that people will settle for a candidate who is "good enough."

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New book: Unsolved Problems in Ecology

A new collection of essays, co-curated by SFI External Professor Andy Dobson, consider unanswered questions about scaling, population biology, ecosystems and communities, collective behavior, and conservation, among other themes.

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