CSSS Santa Fe 2008 participants

Julie Hébert and David Zucker — writer/director and producer, respectively — of the CBS television series Numb3rs gave a joint presentation June 25 as part of the 20th-anniversary celebration for the Complex Systems Summer School.

They described to an audience gathered at St. John’s College, location for lectures during this year’s CSSS, the delicate process of incorporating high-end math into a television show understandable to non-scientists while maintaining scientists’ satisfaction that their work is not being dumbed down to absurdity. “That’s our aim,” they said, although “we don’t always hit the mark.”

Mitch Waldrop, an editor at Nature, talked about “Communicating Complexity” during another CSSS session. He is nearing release of a second edition of his 1992 book Complexity, which was a best-selling account of the birth of the new sciences of complex systems and the development of the Santa Fe Institute. The second edition contains a new chapter, based on a visit to the Institute in January, in which Waldrop reviews the Institute’s development from 1992 to the present.

SFI External Professor Dan Rockmore, Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College, was director of the 2008 CSSS in Santa Fe, which ran June 1-28.

CSSS is SFI’s signature summer school, now in three countries, for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows pursuing interdisciplinary research. Sixty-one students participated in this year’s Santa Fe program. 

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