Study: Why are sustainable practices often elusive?

For at least 200,000 years, humans have been trying to understand their environments and adapt to them. At times, we have succeeded; often, we have not. In a new study, SFI's Stefani Crabtree, Jennifer Dunne, and others analyze how information flows from ecosystems to the societies inhabiting them.

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Research News Brief: The frugal case for energy transition

If you think clean energy is expensive, try fossil fuels. A new report in the journal Joule shows that a rapid transition to renewable energy sources by 2050 could save the global economy trillions of dollars compared to both a gradual transition and to no transition at all.

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Advancing science with machine learning

At the crossroads of computer science and computational science, the emerging field of scientific machine learning focuses on harnessing new ideas in machine learning together with predictive physics-based models to solve complex, real-world problems. On October 10–12, a group met to collaborate on new ideas about using scientific machine learning in complex fields.

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Study: new model for predicting belief change

A new kind of predictive network model could help determine which people will change their minds about contentious scientific issues when presented with evidence-based information. A new study in Science Advances presents a framework to accurately predict whether a person will change their opinion about a certain topic. The approach estimates the amount of dissonance, or mental discomfort, a person has from holding conflicting beliefs about a topic. 

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Themed issue explores complex systems problems facing the planet

Heatwaves are triggering wildfires and killing people around the globe. The climate emergency and the planet’s sixth mass extinction event have already begun. A special themed issue in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences addresses what actions have led us to this point and what we can do from here.

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New model predicts how temperature affects life from quantum to classical scales

A general theory describing how life depends on temperature has been lacking — until now. In a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, research led by José Ignacio Arroyo, an SFI Postdoctoral Fellow, introduces a simple framework that rigorously predicts how temperature affects living things, at all scales. 

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Crime & Punishment: Model predicts crimes and reveals police bias

By taking another look at the complex relationship between crime and society, researchers at the University of Chicago, including SFI External Professor James Evans, have developed an algorithm that can predict urban crime one week in advance with 90% accuracy. The study, published in Nature Human Behavior, analyzed eight cities — Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Francisco — and found consistent results.

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Covid’s Catch-22: The paradox of masking and disease

There's a complex paradox at play in the dynamics between mask-wearing and the spread of disease: While masking reduces transmission rates and consequently disease prevalence, the reduction of disease inhibits mask-wearing — thereby promoting epidemic revival. A new study led by researchers at the University of Virginia and co-authored by SFI's Simon Levin and Stefani Crabtree explores these complex dynamics. 

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New model offers physics-inspired rankings evaluation

The world is rife with rankings and orderings, but these hierarchies are only observed after the fact. That makes it difficult to know the true rankings of a system. In a recent paper published in Physical Review E, SFI's George Cantwell and Cris Moore offer a new model to evaluate rankings. 

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Research brief: Scaling of hunter-gatherer camp size and human sociality

From hunter-gatherer encampments to modern cities, permanent human settlements tend to densify as the population grows, while mobile human settlements do the opposite. New research in Current Anthropology explores these dynamics and the conditions that might lead impermanent, spread-out communities to transition to denser, stationary settlements.

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