Excerpt: Many people alive today possess some Neanderthal ancestry, according to a landmark scientific study. The finding has surprised many experts, as previous genetic evidence suggested the Neanderthals made little or no contribution to our inheritance. The result comes from analysis of the Neanderthal genome - the "instruction manual" describing how these ancient humans were put together. Between 1% and 4% of the Eurasian human genome seems to come from Neanderthals.
A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome, Science
Abstract: Neandertals, the closest evolutionary relatives of present-day humans, lived in large parts of Europe and western Asia before disappearing 30,000 years ago. We present a draft sequence of the Neandertal genome composed of more than 4 billion nucleotides from three individuals. Comparisons of the Neandertal genome to the genomes of five present-day humans from different parts of the world identify a number of genomic regions that may have been affected by positive selection in ancestral modern humans, including genes involved in metabolism and in cognitive and skeletal development. We show that Neandertals shared more genetic variants with present-day humans in Eurasia than with present-day humans in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that gene flow from Neandertals into the ancestors of non-Africans occurred before the divergence of Eurasian groups from each other.
One Billion Euros to Unleash the Power of Information, ScienceDaily
Excerpt: Humanity faces enormous challenges ranging from financial and economic instability to environmental destruction and climate change, all linked directly to our inability to manage -- and often even to understand the nature of -- our collective activities and their consequences. Now a diverse group of leading scientists has unveiled an extraordinary plan to meet these challenges through a project inspired by historic enterprises such as the Apollo Project. Their ambitious proposal aims to stimulate an urgent scientific effort of unprecedented scope focused on building a more powerful and accurate science of human systems and their interaction with the global environment. Their efforts will exploit the revolutionary scientific potential of modern computational, communication, and information technologies, backed up by theoretical analysis. See Also:http://www.futurict.eu
Excerpt: The good news is that your future can be predicted. The bad news is that itâ€™ll cost a billion euros. That, at least, is what a team of scientists led by Dirk Helbing of the ETH in Switzerland believes. And as they point out, a billion euros is small fare compared with the bill for the current financial crisis â€" which might conceivably have been anticipated with the massive social-science simulations they want to establish.
In The Brain and the Meaning of Life, philosopher, psychologist, and computer scientist Paul Thagard (University of Waterloo) has elegantly employed the pithiness principle. He offers a tightly reasoned, often humorous, and original contribution to the emerging practice of applying science to areas heretofore the province of philosophers, theologians, ethicists, and politicians: What is reality and how can we know it? Are mind and brain one or two? What is the source of the sense of self? What is love? What is the difference between right and wrong, and how can we know it? What is the most legitimate form of government? What is the meaning of life, and how can we find happiness in it?
Source:Meaning-Making Neurons, Michael Shermer, DOI: 10.1126/science.1189752, Science Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 693 - 694, 2010/05/07
Stephen Wolfram: Computing a theory of everything, TED.com
About this talk: Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica, talks about his quest to make all knowledge computational -- able to be searched, processed and manipulated. His new search engine, Wolfram Alpha, has no lesser goal than to model and explain the physics underlying the universe.
Nicholas Christakis: The hidden influence of social networks, TED.com
About this talk: We're all embedded in vast social networks of friends, family, co-workers and more. Nicholas Christakis tracks how a wide variety of traits -- from happiness to obesity -- can spread from person to person, showing how your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don't even know.
Comparing genomes to computer operating systems in terms of the topology and evolution of their regulatory control networks, PNAS
Excerpt: The genome has often been called the operating system (OS) for a living organism. A computer OS is described by a regulatory control network termed the call graph, which is analogous to the transcriptional regulatory network in a cell. To apply our firsthand knowledge of the architecture of software systems to understand cellular design principles, we present a comparison between the transcriptional regulatory network of a well-studied bacterium (Escherichia coli) and the call graph of a canonical OS (Linux) in terms of topology and evolution. We show that both networks have a fundamentally hierarchical layout, but there is a key difference: (...)
Dynamics and Control of Diseases in Networks with Community Structure, PLoS Comput Biol
Excerpt: Here we use both data from social networking websites and computer generated networks to study the effect of community structure on epidemic spread. We find that community structure not only affects the dynamics of epidemics in networks, but that it also has implications for how networks can be protected from large-scale epidemics.
Excerpt: Mathematical models are fashionable in systems biology, but there is a world of difference between a model and a theorem. When researchers build models, they make assumptions about a specific experimental setting and have to choose values for rate constants and other parameters. A theorem, by contrast, can apply to a setting of arbitrary molecular complexity, such as a biochemical network with many components. In a recent study, Shinar and Feinberg (1) formulate a theorem that shows when such biochemical networks exhibit "absolute concentration robustness."
Source:Biological Systems Theory, Jeremy Gunawardena, DOI: 10.1126/science.1188974, Science Vol. 328. no. 5978, pp. 581 - 582, 2010/04/30
The Envelope, Please: From Eight Great Innovative Tools, Which Ones Are the Winners?, Knowledge@Wharton
Summary: Ramping up customer satisfaction, maximizing the effectiveness of human capital and repairing supply chains were just a few of the ambitious aims of the ground-breaking "tools" entered in the Wipro-Knowledge@Wharton Innovation Tournament, whose final round of judging took place on March 23 in Philadelphia. Eight finalists, selected from among 120 entries, presented their concepts to a panel of judges during the event. We present the final eight and announce the three competitors who came out on top.
Abstract: Menzerath-Altmann law is a general law of human language stating, for instance, that the longer a word, the shorter its syllables. With the metaphor that genomes are words and chromosomes are syllables, we examine if genomes also obey the law. We find that longer genomes tend to be made of smaller chromosomes in organisms from three different kingdoms: fungi, plants, and animals. Our findings suggest that genomes self-organize under principles similar to those of human language.
Diversity, competition, extinction: the ecophysics of language change, arXiv
Excerpt: As early indicated by Charles Darwin, languages behave and change very much like living species. They display high diversity, differentiate in space and time, emerge and disappear. (...) The models are reviewed here and include extinction, invasion, origination, spatial organization, coexistence and diversity as key concepts and are very simple in their defining rules. Such simplicity is used in order to catch the most fundamental laws of organization and those universal ingredients responsible for qualitative traits. The similarities between observed and predicted patterns indicate that an ecological theory of language is emerging, supporting (on a quantitative basis) its ecological nature, although key differences are also present.
Abstract: We focus on the detection of communities in multi-scale networks, namely networks made of different levels of organization and in which modules exist at different scales. It is first shown that methods based on modularity are not appropriate to uncover modules in empirical networks, mainly because modularity optimization has an intrinsic bias towards partitions having a characteristic number of modules which might not be compatible with the modular organization of the system. We argue for the use of more flexible quality functions incorporating a resolution parameter that allows us to reveal the natural scales of the system. Different types of multi-resolution quality functions are described and unified by looking at the partitioning problem from a dynamical viewpoint. Finally, significant values of the resolution parameter are selected by using complementary measures of robustness of the uncovered partitions. The methods are illustrated on a benchmark and an empirical network.
The cause of universality in growth fluctuations, arXiv
Excerpt: Phenomena as diverse as breeding bird populations, the size of U.S. firms, money invested in mutual funds, the GDP of individual countries and the scientific output of universities all show unusual but remarkably similar growth fluctuations. The fluctuations display characteristic features, including double exponential scaling in the body of the distribution and power law scaling of the standard deviation as a function of size. To explain this we propose a remarkably simple additive replication model
Social Network Sensors for Early Detection of Contagious Outbreaks, arXiv
Excerpt: Current methods for the detection of contagious outbreaks give contemporaneous information about the course of an epidemic at best. Individuals at the center of a social network are likely to be infected sooner, on average, than those at the periphery. However, mapping a whole network to identify central individuals whom to monitor is typically very difficult. We propose an alternative strategy that does not require ascertainment of global network structure, namely, monitoring the friends of randomly selected individuals.
Excerpt: Recent work has shown that the distribution of inter-event times for e-mail communication exhibits a heavy tail which is statistically consistent with a cascading Poisson process. In this work we extend this analysis to higher-order statistics, using the Fano and Allan factors to quantify the extent to which the empirical data are more correlated â€" bursty â€" than a Poisson process.
Prediction of extreme events in the OFC model on a small world network, arXiv
Excerpt: We investigate the predictability of extreme events in a dissipative Olami-Feder-Christensen model on a small world topology. Due to the mechanism of self-organized criticality, it is impossible to predict the magnitude of the next event knowing previous ones, if the system has an infinite size. However, by exploiting the finite size effects, we show that probabilistic predictions of the occurrence of extreme events in the next time step are possible in a finite system.
Adaptation, Plasticity, and Extinction in a Changing Environment: Towards a Predictive Theory, PLoS Biol
Excerpt: Many species are experiencing sustained environmental change mainly due to human activities. The unusual rate and extent of anthropogenic alterations of the environment may exceed the capacity of developmental, genetic, and demographic mechanisms that populations have evolved to deal with environmental change. To begin to understand the limits to population persistence, we present a simple evolutionary model for the critical rate of environmental change beyond which a population must decline and go extinct.
How Cooperation Is Maintained in Human Societies: Punishment, Study Suggests, ScienceDaily
Excerpts: Humans are incredibly cooperative, but why do people cooperate and how is cooperation maintained? A new research (ďż˝) suggests cooperation in large groups is maintained by punishment. The finding challenges previous cooperation/punishment models that argue punishment is uncoordinated and unconditional. (ďż˝) To understand the study, let's start with a small group of friends. In small groups, individuals often have personal connections with other group members and cooperation typically is maintained by a "you help me, I'll help you" reciprocity system. Group members cooperate because they do not want to hurt their friends by not participating in group efforts, and also because they may want help in the future. (ďż˝)
Evolutionary Establishment of Moral and Double Moral Standards through Spatial Interactions, PLoS Comput Biol
Summary: Why do friends spontaneously come up with mutually accepted rules, cooperation, and solidarity, while the creation of shared moral standards often fails in large communities? In a â€śglobal villageâ€ť, where everybody may interact with anybody else, it is not worthwhile to punish people who cheat. Moralists (cooperative individuals who undertake punishment efforts) disappear because of their disadvantage compared to cooperators who do not punish (so-called â€śsecond-order free-ridersâ€ť). However, cooperators are exploited by free-riders. This creates a â€śtragedy of the commonsâ€ť, where everybody is uncooperative in the end. Yet, when people interact with friends or local neighbors, as most people do, moralists can escape the direct competition with non-punishing cooperators by separating from them. Moreover, in the competition with free-riders, moralists can defend their interests better than non-punishing cooperators. Therefore, while seriously depleted in the beginning, moralists can finally spread all over the world (â€śwho laughs last laughs best effectâ€ť). Strikingly, the presence of a few non-cooperative individuals (â€śdeviant behaviorâ€ť) can accelerate the victory of moralists. In order to spread, moralists may also form an â€śunholy cooperationâ€ť with people having double moral standards, i.e., free-riders who punish non-cooperative behavior, while being uncooperative themselves.
Excerpt: In an era in which the "tragedy of the commons" has acquired new meaning on a global scale, social scientists are beginning to find hope in human nature. True, we are self-interested creatures capable of destroying the habitats that support us as we each focus on getting our share of the global commons before others beat us to it. Yet Homo sapiens could never have populated the planet and mastered complex technologies and organizational forms had nature not also made us sensitive to one another's regard. Both field studies and laboratory experiments depict humans as willing to cooperate when convinced that others are doing the same and that at least some will incur costs to sanction cheating. On page 613 in this issue, Janssen et al. (1) show that communication among members of a group is key to establishing cooperation and using punishment effectively, and on page 617, Boyd et al. (2) provide a model of how signaling (a stylized kind of communication) could have allowed punishment and cooperation to evolve.
Source:Cooperation and Punishment, Louis Putterman, DOI: 10.1126/science.1189969, Science Vol. 328. no. 5978, pp. 578 - 579, 2010/04/30
Bacterial foraging algorithm with varying population, Biosystems
Excerpt: Most of evolutionary algorithms (EAs) are based on a fixed population. However, due to this feature, such algorithms do not fully explore the potential of searching ability and are time consuming. This paper presents a novel nature-inspired heuristic optimization algorithm [...]BFAVP has been tested on several benchmark functions and the results show that it performs better than other popularly used EAs, in terms of both accuracy and convergency.
Excerpt: Everyday behaviour involves a trade-off between planned actions and reaction to environmental events. Evidence from neurophysiology, neurology and functional brain imaging suggests different neural bases for the control of different movement types. Here we develop a behavioural paradigm to test movement dynamics for intentional versus reaction movements and provide evidence for a ďż˝reactive advantageďż˝ in movement execution, whereby the same action is executed faster in reaction to an opponent. We placed pairs of participants in competition with each other to make a series of button presses. Within-subject analysis of movement times revealed a 10 per cent benefit for reactive actions. (ďż˝)
Stephen Hawking warns over making contact with aliens, BBC News
Excerpt: Prof Hawking thinks that, rather than actively trying to communicate with extra-terrestrials, humans should do everything possible to avoid contact. He explained: "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."
Thinking About Complexity: Grasping the Continuum through Criticism and Pluralism, ISCE Publishing
The aim of this book is to introduce some of the basic ideas concerning the science of complex systems, and to develop a philosophical stance that is sensitive to complexity itself. In doing so, it is assumed that the Universe in which we find ourselves can be well-described at some arbitrarily deep level as a complex system. (...) It is argued that in Life there are no real and absolute boundaries, although many patterns can be uncovered that can be used to build sufficient levels of understanding to allow us to interact with our environment in useful ways. (...)
Dynamics of Information Systems: Theory and Applications, Springer
Dynamics of Information Systems presents state-of-the-art research explaining the importance of information in the evolution of a distributed or networked system. This book presents techniques for measuring the value or significance of information within the context of a system. These newly developed techniques have numerous applications including: the detection of terrorist networks, the design of highly functioning businesses and computer systems, modeling the distributed sensory and control physiology of animals, quantum entanglement and genome modeling, multi-robotic systems design, as well as industrial and manufacturing safety.
This book provides a lens through which modern society is shown to depend on complex networks for its stability. One way to achieve this understanding is through the development of a new kind of science, one that is not explicitly dependent on the traditional disciplines of biology, economics, physics, sociology and so on; a science of networks. This text reviews, in non-mathematical language, what we know about the development of science in the twenty-first century and how that knowledge influences our world. (...)
Human beings are active agents who can think. To understand how thought serves action requires understanding how people conceive of the relation between cause and effect, between action and outcome. In cognitive terms, how do people construct and reason with the causal models we use to represent our world? A revolution is occurring in how statisticians, philosophers, and computer scientists answer this question. Those fields have ushered in new insights about causal models by thinking about how to represent causal structure mathematically, in a framework that uses graphs and probability theory to develop what are called causal Bayesian networks. (...)
Economics and Psychology: A Promising New Cross-Disciplinary Field, The MIT Press
The integration of economics and psychology has created a vibrant and fruitful emerging field of study. The essays in Economics and Psychology take a broad view of the interface between these two disciplines, going beyond the usual focus on "behavioral economics." As documented in this volume, the influence of psychology on economics has been responsible for a view of human behavior that calls into question the assumption of complete rationality (and raises the possibility of altruistic acts), the acceptance of experiments as a valid method of economic research, and the idea that utility or well-being can be measured. (...)
Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty: Creating The Risk Intelligent Enterprise, Wiley
The ability of businesses to survive and thrive often requires unconventional thinking and calculated risk taking. The key is to make the right decisionsâ€"even under the most risky, uncertain, and turbulent conditions. In the new book, authors Rick Funston and Steve Wagner suggest that effective risk taking is needed in order to innovate, stay competitive, and drive value creation. Based on their combined decades of experience as practitioners, consultants, and advisors to numerous business professionals throughout the world, Funston and Wagner discuss the adoption of 10 essential and practical skills, which will improve agility, resilience, and realize benefits. (...)
ASSYSTComplexity One of the main goals of the ASSYST Coordination Action is to promote Complex Systems for Socially Intelligent ICT (COSI-ICT) and, more generally, Complex Systems (CS) Science in Europe and Worldwide. We do this by communicating widely with scientists, policy makers, and business people, and by showcasing success stories of CS applications.