Mahzarin Banaji receives honorary doctorate from Yale

SFI External Professor Mahzarin Banaji (Harvard University) received an honorary doctorate from Yale University during its 2024 commencement ceremony in May. She was recognized for her pioneering work to "establish the role that unconscious processes play in governing human social action."

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New work extends the thermodynamic theory of computation

In a paper published in Physical Review X on May 13, a quartet of physicists and computer scientists expand the modern theory of the thermodynamics of computation. By combining approaches from statistical physics and computer science, the researchers introduce mathematical equations that reveal the minimum and maximum predicted energy cost of computational processes that depend on randomness, which is a powerful tool in modern computers. 

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New series presents pivotal papers in complexity science

New from the SFI Press: Foundational Papers in Complexity Science. In four volumes spanning nearly 3,000 pages, Foundational Papers looks at the past 100 years to examine the origins and history of the field of complexity. Volumes I & II were published on May 9, 2024. Volumes III & IV will be released this summer. 

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Research News Brief: random processes shape science and math

Will a certain tritium atom decay by a certain time? According to our current science, this question concerning physical phenomena should be answered by sampling from a probability distribution, a process not unlike spinning a roulette wheel or rolling dice. However, a paper in Foundations of Physics suggests that the same could be true of a question concerning mathematical phenomena, even one as prosaic as “what is 2+2?” 

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SFI receives award from Academia Film Olomouc

The Santa Fe Institute has received the Award for Contribution to the Communication of Science from the Academia Film Olomouc (AFO) in the Czech Republic. Presented on April 29, 2024, during the AFO’s 59th International Festival of Popular Science Films, the award recognizes SFI’s “systematic approach, hard and continuous work, and long-term contributions to thinking about interdisciplinarity and making it work,” says Zdeněk Rychtera, an AFO dramaturg and programmer.  

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In memoriam: Daniel C. Dennett

Daniel C. Dennett, one of the most influential and provocative philosophers of our times, passed away on April 19 at the age of 82 in Portland, Maine. At the time of his passing, Dennett held the position of External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.

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New Book: The time for complexity economics has come

In his new book Making Sense of Chaos: A Better Economics for a Better World, External Professor Doyne Farmer explains in accessible language how complexity economics works and how it could help policymakers make better decisions in the future.

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Karen Willcox Winner of the 2024 Theodore von Kármán Prize

SFI External Professor Karen Willcox (UT Austin), who also serves on SFI’s Science Board, recently won the 2024 Theodore von Kármán Prize for her contributions to computational science and engineering. Willcox was acknowledged for her work in the development and application of model reduction methods across diverse fields, and digital twins.

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Tim Kohler to deliver Linda S. Cordell Lecture

SFI External Professor Tim Kohler (Washington State University) will be delivering the Linda S. Cordell Lecture through the School for Advanced Research (SAR) on April 28, 2024, at the New Mexico History Museum. 

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To accelerate biosphere science, reconnect three scientific cultures

Researchers who study Earth’s biosphere tend to operate from one of three scientific cultures, each with distinct ways of conducting science, and which have been operating mostly independently from one another, find the authors of a Perspective published in PNAS. Three SFI researchers identify and explain the three cultures, and suggest that reconnecting them could help accelerate biosphere science.

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Mirta Galesic receives prestigious ERC Advanced Grant

SFI Professor Mirta Galesic has received a €3 million grant, to be distributed over the next five years, from the European Research Council (ERC) to study collective adaptation. The prestigious award will help Galesic and a team of researchers to study why collectives — from families to societies — can get stuck when tackling important problems like resolving longstanding conflicts or curbing the spread of disease. 

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Carlo Rovelli receives 2024 Lewis Thomas Prize

SFI Fractal Faculty Carlo Rovelli has been awarded the 2024 Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science. The award, named after its first recipient Lewis Thomas, a writer, educator, and physician–scientist, honors and recognizes those who have been able to use their vision and voice to explain science in multiple dimensions.

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Research News Brief: Defining a city using cell-phone data

Cities are defined by various criteria, from political units to built areas identified in satellite images to how people move across geographical space. The proliferation of cell phones around the globe may offer a more complete picture of people's mobility. 

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Complexity tools for USDA nutritional guidelines

A recent report co-authored by SFI External Professor Ross Hammond outlines six main strategies for incorporating complex-systems science into the USDA’s nutritional guideline and offers a roadmap for creating a more nuanced, multifaceted approach to shaping nutritional policies.

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Carlo Rovelli joins SFI's Fractal Faculty

Carlo Rovelli, a physicist known for his work on loop quantum gravity and for several popular science books including Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and The Order of Time, has joined SFI's Fractal Faculty.

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New book offers thoughtful approach to modeling complex social systems

In his new book Modeling Social Behavior: Mathematical and Agent-Based Models of Social Dynamics and Cultural Evolution, SFI External Professor Paul Smaldino provides an excellent introduction to agent-based modeling for social scientists and others interested in modeling cognitive–social systems and integrates the use of computational agent-based models with classic mathematical approaches from dynamical systems and game theory.

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Research News Brief: A test of AI “personalities” and behavior

As AI increasingly influences our human experience, we need to better understand its behavior. In new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, SFI External Professor Matthew Jackson and co-authors presented two recent versions of ChatGPT — GPT-3 and -4 — with a common personality test and a suite of behavioral games, then compared the responses to those of humans from around the world. 

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Study: To make sense of history, embrace uncertainty

There are many things we don’t know about how history unfolds. The process might be impersonal, even inevitable, as some social scientists have suggested; human societies might be doomed to decline. Or, individual actions and environmental conditions might influence our communities’ trajectories. Social scientists have struggled to find a consensus on such fundamental issues. A new framework by SFI faculty and others suggests a way to unify these perspectives.

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