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Simpler Math Predicts How Close Ecosystems Are to Collapse
By replacing thousands of equations with just one, ecology modelers can more accurately assess how close fragile environments are to a disastrous “tipping point.”
Starfish Whisperer Develops a Physical Language of Life
Nikta Fakhri is adapting and extending concepts from physics to describe how tiny biological components give rise to living organisms.
The Year in Math
Four Fields Medals were awarded for major breakthroughs in geometry, combinatorics, statistical physics and number theory, even as mathematicians continued to wrestle with how computers are changing the discipline.
Chaos Researchers Can Now Predict Perilous Points of No Return
A custom-built machine learning algorithm can predict when a complex system is about to switch to a wildly different mode of behavior.
Wheel Made of ‘Odd Matter’ Spontaneously Rolls Uphill
Physicists have solved a key problem of robotic locomotion by revising the usual rules of interaction between simple component parts.
How to Make the Universe Think for Us
Physicists are building neural networks out of vibrations, voltages and lasers, arguing that the future of computing lies in exploiting the universe’s complex physical behaviors.
Work on Earth’s Climate and Other Complex Systems Earns Nobel Prize in Physics
Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann have been honored for their work that led to reliable predictions of the effects of climate change. They will share the Nobel with Giorgio Parisi, who has made pioneering studies of chaotic physical systems.
Complexity Scientist Beats Traffic Jams Through Adaptation
To tame urban traffic, the computer scientist Carlos Gershenson finds that letting transportation systems adapt and self-organize often works better than trying to predict and control them.
How Earth’s Climate Changes Naturally (and Why Things Are Different Now)
Earth’s climate has fluctuated through deep time, pushed by these 10 different causes. Here’s how each compares with modern climate change.