Study Shows Happiness is Contagious

January 1, 2009 / A New Scientist study reports how happy we are is directly linked to how happy our friends are and vice versa. SFI External Professor and sociologist at Columbia University, Duncan Watts points out that we are “inherently social creatures.” So part of how we feel and who we are, is determined by our social circles. Today we interact so frequently by computers, cell phones, and blackberries. This study shows the need we all have to interact face to face is important to our own happiness as well as our friends’.
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Professor Geanakopols discusses the high cost of capital

January 1, 2009 / Yale University professor and SFI External Professor John Geanakoplos discusses the economic impact of leveraging and deleveraging. He says the problem has to do with bigger collateral requirements than in the past. Geanakoplos states the cost of capital will stay high without policies, which would support prices of assets.
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Hedge funds can deceive you

December 17, 2008 / SFI External Professor Peyton Young and coauthor Dean Foster show how hedge funds have the power to deceive you in their study; The Hedge Fund Game: Incentives, Excess Returns, and Performance Mimics. They show how vulnerable the market is to unskilled traders. The unskilled trader may appear skilled and you wouldn’t know the difference until it is too late and the fund blows up.

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SFI External Professor Rockmore researches topological structures in the equities market network

December 16, 2008 / SFI External Professor Daniel Rockmore and coresearchers study the complex systems of the financial markets. Rockmore and colleagues created the “partition decoupling method” (PDM) which combines the partition scrubbing method and the hierarchical spectral clustering method. The PDM would be used for decomposing the correlation networks of the markets. The end result would reveal interdependencies in the network components. This information would be useful in risk management and portfolio construction.

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Experts: Thailand AIDS Vaccine Will Fail

Bette Korber, of the Santa Fe Institute, along with 21 other researchers — including Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus- signed a short opinion piece recently published in the Journal of Science. The scientists believe that a $119 million federally funded experiment in which an AIDS vaccine is being tested on 16,000 volunteers in Thailand is doomed to fail and should never have been started. "They are taking two failed products and hoping that if they are combined that they are going to work," said Dennis Burton, an AIDS researcher at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. "Everything I've seen about the Thai trial suggests that it doesn't have a prayer." The experiment is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Pentagon and is being carried out by the Thai government.

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Nature - Evo-Devo:Modeling the evolutionary possible

December 1, 2008 / SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Elhanan Borenstein and SFI Resident Professor David Krakauer developed a computational model which successfully illustrates the genotype-phenotype relationships in development and evolution. The model relates how a genetic input determines the phenotypic output. It also describes the phenotypic diversity across phylogeny.

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Researchers look into social marketing in online communities

Online communities include people from many different groups and networks. Academics are now looking into the growth of these communities and how to market to them. SFI External Professor Duncan Watts shares his research regarding key influencers in reaching the masses.

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NIH increases its support for high-impact research with $138 million

The National Institutes of Health announced today that it has increased its support of high-impact research with 2008 NIH Director’s Pioneer and New Innovator Awards to 47 scientists. Each Pioneer Award provides $2.5 million in direct costs over five years. New Innovator Awards are for $1.5 million in direct costs over the same time period. Included in the Pioneer Award recipients is Joshua M. Epstein, Ph.D., Brookings Institution Center on Social and Economic Dynamics director and Santa Fe Institute external professor, who will integrate behavioral factors into models of the development and progression of infectious and chronic diseases.

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Hidden Infections Crucial to Understanding, Controlling Disease Outbreaks

Scientists at the University of Michigan, including Santa Fe Institute External Professor Mercedes Pascual, are researching the cycles of the infectious disease cholera by studying less dramatic, mild infections lurking in large numbers of people. Their findings will appear in Nature Magazine. Their goal was to understand the patterns of cholera, particularly the impact of infection-induced immunity on the dynamics of cholera outbreaks. Since it is difficult to get very sick from cholera, there are a lot of people who are walking around with the disease in high infection areas such as Bengal, and these researchers were interested in studying the consequences of this. Their findings showed that many more people are being exposed to the bacteria than are getting serious infections or dying, and that individuals with mild infections are losing their immunity quite quickly.

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New Bluetooth System Orients Blind And Sighted Pedestrians

A new bluetooth system, called Talking Points, has been developed at the University of Michigan. The new system is primarily for the blind, but will also be useful for the sighted, and orients them to points of interest as they move around. It is the first step to an audio virtual reality. This is the first known system of its kind to use Bluetooth technology. "Location-based guide systems of one kind or another have been built and re-built by academic researchers for over a decade now, but this is the first project that has really focused on the needs of the visually impaired and gone out to make sure the system is being developed to meet those needs," said Mark Newman, co-author of the papers being presented and External Professor at Santa Fe Institute.

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Peak oil "wrong," says Schwartz

Environmental futurist and Santa Fe Institute trustee Peter Schwartz says that peak oil is not a driver of clean technology and those that support it are wrong. The peak oil theory claims that US oil production would peak between 1965 — 1970. Schwartz, however, claims we do not know how much oil is out in the world, and that estimates are conservative.

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Gorbachev calls for more international cooperation

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev decries America's military buildup since the Cold War and he is calling for more international cooperation in addressing political and environmental problems. Gorbachev says the growing U.S. defense budget is pushing other countries to do the same and he contends that the expansion of conventional weapons also will undermine efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. Gorbachev, who left office in 1991, was in Santa Fe to deliver a speech to benefit the Santa Fe Institute, a research and education center. He made his comments at a news conference before his lecture.

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MIT: Turning 'funky' quantum mysteries into computing reality

The strange world of quantum mechanics can provide a way to surpass limits in speed, efficiency and accuracy of computing, communications and measurement, according to research by (SFI External Professor) MIT scientist Seth Lloyd. "There are limits, if you think classically," said Lloyd, a professor in MIT ’s Research Laboratory of Electronics and Department of Mechanical Engineering. But while classical physics imposes limits that are already beginning to constrain things like computer chip development and precision measuring systems, "once you think quantum mechanically you can start to surpass those limits," he said.

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