Network model miraculously untangles Facebook, hopes for more

Exhausted from favoriting wall posts from across Facebook, a mathematical model has finally untangled relationships on the social network. Amazingly, the new technique could be applied to analyze the spread of infectious disease or pandemics, or, though there are clear limits to the method, to understanding what happens in Congress. Those slim hopes rests on getting members to talk across the aisle.


With the new community detection method, researchers should be able to dig deeper to examine the relationships among different groups in dynamic, multiplex data. Identifying community structures in a network might help to model processes and provides a signal about the underlying system, such as legislative polarization or the influence of various factors and forces...


First, Believe

Saying that "I think if we had more conversations about what we really care about, we might find innovation happens pretty much spontaneously," Johnnie Moore points out that breakthroughs depend on hunches, authenticity and risk - not sure bets, representations and proof.

Applied to our inner lives, the point is well taken.

It's those internal conversations that led Philippe Petit onto a wire sprung between the Twin Towers, or, having lost two legs mountain climbing, urged on Hugh Herr to scale new and different heights, or lent Sapphire the rhetorical depth in "Push." Each will be at IdeaFestival 2010.

"Coversations about what we care about?" First, believe.


Image: eye2eye, Creative Commons

Know-it-all, 'Information" hits Superfecta. Claims "higher power"


Down on his luck before being discovered as the root of all reality, information goes on to clean up at the betting window the first Saturday in May. 


Daniel Tammet: Thinking in Puns, Daydreams, Similes

Having been confirmed as one of the IdeaFestival 2010 presenters, prodigious savant and author of Born on a Blue Day and Embracing the Wide Sky, Daniel Tammet, recently took some time to answer five questions about his amazing mind.

Make plans today to hear Daniel and all the fantastic and accomplished people who will be in Louisville this September!

In your books you've talked about the synesthetic landscapes you encounter. Can you describe synesthesia and how it has contributed to your ease with language and math?

Synesthesia is a rare phenomenon in the brain. Individuals experience a mixing of the senses caused by unusual cross-communication between brain regions. Some synesthetes can taste words, or 'see' musical notes as colors or hues. My own synesthesia is similar to that of the writer Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita among many other novels. Nabokov said that letters of the alphabet had different colors, and it is likely that this tangible and intuitive experience of language played a role in his remarkable writing. In my case, letters and words have their own colors and textures and like Nabokov I make use of these in my own writing (for example, for such techniques as alliteration and metaphor). The ability also helps me to learn foreign languages, by visualising the connections between words. Numbers, too, have their own colors as well as shapes which I can manipulate in my mind to produce the solutions to sums.


Art: "The lie that makes us realize the truth"

[I'm reposting this because in the video below, Lehrer gets at a thought from Pablo Picasso that I Facebooked recently: "Art is the lie that makes us realize the truth."]

Filmed shortly before his presentation at the 2008 IdeaFestival, Jonah Lehrer describes how through a process of experimentation and intense curiosity artists have anticipated discoveries about the mind later confirmed by science. Sure, were he alive today Proust wouldn't synthesize the next miracle drug, but his investigation and subsequent art musters something more vital to the human experience - the right question asked at the right time. Have a listen.



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