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.
In network science, the famous "friendship paradox" describes why your friends are (on average) more popular, richer, and more attractive than you are. But a slightly more nuanced picture emerges when we apply mathematics to real-world data.
The human world is, increasingly, an urban one — and that means elevators. Two physicists saw this as an opportunity to explore the factors that determine elevator transport capabilities in their new paper in the Journal of Statistical Mechanics.
By simulating the physiology and decisions of early way-finders, an international team of archaeologists, geographers, ecologists, and computer scientists has mapped the probable “superhighways” that led to the first peopling of the Australian continent some 50,000-70,000 years ago.
During the 2020-2021 fall semester, school districts around the United States navigated their reopening plans with little data on how SARS-CoV-2 spreads among children or how in-person learning would impact transmission in the schools’ communities. A new study in The Journal of School Health joins a growing body of evidence that, with appropriate measures, there are ways for schools to safely reopen.
Scientists rarely have the historical data they need to see exactly how nodes in a network became connected. But a new paper in Physical Review Letters offers hope for reconstructing the missing information, using a new method to evaluate the rules that generate network models.
Studying ancient food webs can help scientists reconstruct communities of species, many long extinct, and even use those insights to figure out how modern-day communities might change in the future. There’s just one problem: only some species left enough of a trace for scientists to find eons later, leaving large gaps in the fossil record — and researchers’ ability to piece together the food webs from the past.
A new paper shines a light on those gaps and points the way to how to account for them.
The rise of online hate speech is a disturbing, growing trend in countries around the world, with serious psychological consequences and the potential to impact, and even contribute to, real-world violence. A new paper offers a framework for studying the dynamics of online hate and counter speech, and offers the first large-scale classification of millions of instances such interactions on Twitter.
Living organisms aren’t the only things that evolve over time. Cultural practices change, too, and in recent years social scientists have taken a keen interest in understanding this cultural evolution. A new experiment used drum-beats to investigate the role that environment plays on cultural shifts, confirming that different environments do indeed give rise to different cultural patterns.
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 in Nature Communications 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.
If voters gravitate toward the center of the political spectrum, why are the parties drifting farther apart? A new model 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."
Unlike businesses or governments, organisms can't go into evolutionary debt -- there is no borrowing one's way back from extinction. This can lead to seemingly irrational economic choices that suddenly make sense when viewed as a multiplicative, evolutionary process.
Biological builders like beavers, elephants, and shipworms re-engineer their environments. How this affects their ecological network is the subject of new research, which finds that increasing the number of "ecosystem engineers" stabilizes the entire network against extinctions.
The U.S. is likely to see a near-term 24% drop in employment, 17% percent drop in wages, and 22% drop in economic activity as a result of the COVID-19 crisis according to a new study. These impacts will be very unevenly distributed, with the bottom quarter of earners at risk of a 42% loss in employment and bearing a 30% share of total wage losses. In contrast, the study estimates the top quarter of earners only risk a 7% drop in employment and an 18% share of wage losses.
Despite the near-universal assumption of individuality in biology, there is little agreement about what individuals are and few rigorous quantitative methods for their identification. A new approach may solve the problem by defining individuals in terms of informational processes.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an example of complexity in action. Researchers who study complex systems are available to answer questions on topics such as why systems collapse, the nature of an evolving virus and its ecology, how networks spread disease and economic instability, the mathematics of modeling outbreaks, the way decision-making modifies disease spread, and other ideas that touch on the disease.
A new paper puts an evolutionary twist on a classic question. Instead of asking why we get cancer, researchers at Osnabrück University and the Santa Fe Institute use signaling theory to explore how our bodies have evolved to keep us from getting more cancer.
Budgeting resources isn’t just a problem for humans preparing a holiday dinner, or squirrels storing up nuts for the winter.
A new model of how animals budget their energy sheds light on how they live and explains why they tend to evolve toward larger body sizes. The research, published in PNAS, proposes that animal energy budgets are governed by a key mechanism: resource variation — a measure of how spread out or clumped up food and water are.
Whether we decide to take out that insurance policy, buy Bitcoin, or switch jobs, many economic decisions boil down to a fundamental gamble about how to maximize our wealth over time. How we understand these decisions is the subject of a new perspective piece in Nature Physics that aims to correct a foundational mistake in economic theory.
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposal to dramatically revise the Fair Housing Act. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed new legislation that would absolve landlords and lenders from any legal responsibility for discrimination that results from a third-party computer algorithm.
During Earth’s last glacial period, temperatures on the planet periodically spiked dramatically and rapidly. A new paper in the journal Chaos suggests that mathematics from information theory could offer a powerful tool for analyzing and understanding these mysterious events.
The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution is one of the most thoroughly-studied episodes in prehistory. But a new paper by Sam Bowles and Jung-Kyoo Choi shows that most explanations for it don’t agree with the evidence, and offers a new interpretation.
Seven thousand years ago, societies across Eurasia began to show signs of lasting divisions between haves and have-nots. In new research published in the journal Antiquity, scientists chart the precipitous surge of prehistoric inequality and trace its economic origins back to the adoption of ox-drawn plows.
The result of the 2016 US presidential election was, for many, a surprise lesson in social perception bias — peoples’ tendency to assume that others think as we do, and to underestimate the size and influence of a minority party.
Long documented in psychological literature, a panoply of social perception biases play out differently in different contexts. Many psychologists attribute the source of these biases to faulty cognitive processes like “wishful thinking” or “social projection,” but according to a study published August 12 in Nature Human Behaviour, the structure of our social networks might offer a simpler explanation.
Most game theory models don’t reflect the relentlessly random timing of the real world. In a new paper, two economists and a physicist model what happens when players receive information or act at random times, which could make a big difference in decision-making.
Instead of the typical bell-shaped curve, the fossil record shows a fat-tailed distribution, with extreme, outlier, events occurring with higher-than-expected probability. Using the same mathematical tools that describe stock market crashes, Santa Fe Institute scientists explain the evolutionary dynamics that give rise to universal patterns in the fossil record.
Modular -- or cliquey -- group structure isolates the flow of communication between individuals, which might seem counterproductive to survival. But for some animal groups, more information isn't necessarily better, according to new SFI research published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Across the globe in a variety of societies, royal women found ways to advance the issues they cared about and advocate for the people important to them as detailed in a recent paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Research.
There's been a rapid resurgence of interest in understanding the energy cost of computing. Recent advances in this "thermodynamics of computation" are summarized in a new review published in the Journal of Physics A.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute and the Santa Fe Institute have developed a new model to explain the evolutionary origins of empathy and other related phenomena, such as emotional contagion and contagious yawning. The model suggests that the origin of a broad range of empathetic responses lies in cognitive simulation. It shifts the theoretical focus from a top-down approach that begins with cooperation to one that begins with a single cognitive mechanism.