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Nosso universo vai congelar como uma cerveja super-resfriada…


Finding the Higgs? Good news. Finding its mass? Not so good.

“Fireballs of doom” from a quantum phase change would wipe out present Universe.

by  – Feb 19 2013, 8:55pm HB

A collision in the LHC’s CMS detector.

Ohio State’s Christopher Hill joked he was showing scenes of an impending i-Product launch, and it was easy to believe him: young people were setting up mats in a hallway, ready to spend the night to secure a space in line for the big reveal. Except the date was July 3 and the location was CERN—where the discovery of the Higgs boson would be announced the next day.

It’s clear the LHC worked as intended and has definitively identified a Higgs-like particle. Hill put the chance of the ATLAS detector having registered a statistical fluke at less than 10-11, and he noted that wasn’t even considering the data generated by its partner, the CMS detector. But is it really the one-and-only Higgs and, if so, what does that mean? Hill was part of a panel that discussed those questions at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As theorist Joe Lykken of Fermilab pointed out, the answers matter. If current results hold up, they indicate the Universe is currently inhabiting what’s called a false quantum vacuum. If it were ever to reach the real one, its existing structures (including us), would go away in what Lykken called “fireballs of doom.”

We’ll look at the less depressing stuff first, shall we?

Zeroing in on the Higgs

Thanks to the Standard Model, we were able to make some very specific predictions about the Higgs. These include the frequency with which it will decay via different pathways: two gamma-rays, two Z bosons (which further decay to four muons), etc. We can also predict the frequency of similar looking events that would occur if there were no Higgs. We can then scan each of the decay pathways (called channels), looking for energies where there is an excess of events, or bump. Bumps have shown up in several channels in roughly the same place in both CMS and ATLAS, which is why we know there’s a new particle.

But we still don’t know precisely what particle it is. The Standard Model Higgs should have a couple of properties: it should be scalar and should have a spin of zero. According to Hill, the new particle is almost certainly scalar; he showed a graph where the alternative, pseudoscalar, was nearly ruled out. Right now, spin is less clearly defined. It’s likely to be zero, but we haven’t yet ruled out a spin of two. So far, so Higgs-like.

The Higgs is the particle form of a quantum field that pervades our Universe (it’s a single quantum of the field), providing other particles with mass. In order to do that, its interactions with other particles vary—particles are heavier if they have stronger interactions with the Higgs. So, teams at CERN are sifting through the LHC data, checking for the strengths of these interactions. So far, with a few exceptions, the new particle is acting like the Higgs, although the error bars on these measurements are rather large.

As we said above, the Higgs is detected in a number of channels and each of them produces an independent estimate of its mass (along with an estimated error). As of the data Hill showed, not all of these estimates had converged on the same value, although they were all consistent within the given errors. These can also be combined mathematically for a single estimate, with each of the two detectors producing a value. So far, these overall estimates are quite close: CMS has the particle at 125.8GeV, Atlas at 125.2GeV. Again, the error bars on these values overlap.

Oops, there goes the Universe

That specific mass may seem fairly trivial—if it were 130GeV, would you care? Lykken made the argument you probably should. But he took some time to build to that.

Lykken pointed out, as the measurements mentioned above get more precise, we may find the Higgs isn’t decaying at precisely the rates we expect it to. This may be because we have some details of the Standard Model wrong. Or, it could be a sign the Higgs is also decaying into some particles we don’t know about—particles that are dark matter candidates would be a prime choice. The behavior of the Higgs might also provide some indication of why there’s such a large excess of matter in the Universe.

But much of Lykken’s talk focused on the mass. As we mentioned above, the Higgs field pervades the entire Universe; the vacuum of space is filled with it. And, with a value for the Higgs mass, we can start looking into the properties of the Higgs filed and thus the vacuum itself. “When we do this calculation,” Lykken said, “we get a nasty surprise.”

It turns out we’re not living in a stable vacuum. Eventually, the Universe will reach a point where the contents of the vacuum are the lowest energy possible, which means it will reach the most stable state possible. The mass of the Higgs tells us we’re not there yet, but are stuck in a metastable state at a somewhat higher energy. That means the Universe will be looking for an excuse to undergo a phase transition and enter the lower state.

What would that transition look like? In Lykken’s words, again, “fireballs of doom will form spontaneously and destroy the Universe.” Since the change would alter the very fabric of the Universe, anything embedded in that fabric—galaxies, planets, us—would be trashed during the transition. When an audience member asked “Are the fireballs of doom like ice-9?” Lykken replied, “They’re even worse than that.”

Lykken offered a couple of reasons for hope. He noted the outcome of these calculations is extremely sensitive to the values involved. Simply shifting the top quark’s mass by two percent to a value that’s still within the error bars of most measurements, would make for a far more stable Universe.

And then there’s supersymmetry. The news for supersymmetry out of the LHC has generally been negative, as various models with low-mass particles have been ruled out by the existing data (we’ll have more on that shortly). But supersymmetry actually predicts five Higgs particles. (Lykken noted this by showing a slide with five different photos of Higgs taken at various points in his career, in which he was “differing in mass and other properties, as happens to all of us.”) So, when the LHC starts up at higher energies in a couple of years, we’ll actually be looking for additional, heavier versions of the Higgs.

If those are found, then the destruction of our Universe would be permanently put on hold. “If you don’t like that fate of the Universe,” Lykken said, “root for supersymmetry”

Planetas extra-solares, Kepler 62 e o Paradoxo de Fermi local

Conforme aumentam o número de planetas extra-solares descobertos, também aumentamos vínculos sobre as previsões do modelo de percolação galática (Paradoxo de Fermi Local).
A previsão é que, se assumirmos que Biosferas Meméticas (Biosferas culturais ou Tecnosferas) são um resultado provável de Biosferas Genéticas, então devemos estar dentro de uma região com pucos planetas habitáveis. Pois se existirem planetas habitados (por seres inteligentes) por perto, com grande probabilidade eles são bem mais avançados do que nós, e já teriam nos colonizado.
Como isso ainda não ocorreu (a menos que se acredite nas teorias de conspiração dos ufólogos e nas teorias de Jesus ET, deuses astronautas etc.), segue que quanto mais os astronomos obtiverem dados, mais ficará evidente que nosso sistema solar é uma anomalia dentro de nossa vizinhança cósmica (1000 anos-luz?), ou seja, não podemos assumir o Princípio Copernicano em relação ao sistema solar: nosso sistema solar não é tipico em nossa vizinhança.  Bom, pelo menos, essa conclusão está batendo com os dados coletados até hoje…
Assim, é possível fazer a previsão de que uma maior análise dos planetas Kepler 62-e e Kepler 62-f revelará que eles não possuem uma atmosfera com oxigênio ou metano, sinais de um planeta com biosfera.

Persistence solves Fermi Paradox but challenges SETI projects

Osame Kinouchi (DFM-FFCLRP-Usp)
(Submitted on 8 Dec 2001)

Persistence phenomena in colonization processes could explain the negative results of SETI search preserving the possibility of a galactic civilization. However, persistence phenomena also indicates that search of technological civilizations in stars in the neighbourhood of Sun is a misdirected SETI strategy. This last conclusion is also suggested by a weaker form of the Fermi paradox. A simple model of a branching colonization which includes emergence, decay and branching of civilizations is proposed. The model could also be used in the context of ant nests diffusion.

03/05/2013 – 03h10

Possibilidade de vida não se resume a planetas similares à Terra, diz estudo


Com as diferentes composições, massas e órbitas possíveis para os planetas fora do Sistema Solar, a vida talvez não esteja limitada a mundos similares à Terra em órbitas equivalentes à terrestre.

Editoria de arte/Folhapress

Essa é uma das conclusões apresentada por Sara Seager, do MIT (Instituto de Tecnologia de Massachusetts), nos EUA, em artigo de revisão publicado no periódico “Science“, com base na análise estatística dos cerca de 900 mundos já detectados ao redor de mais de 400 estrelas.

Seager destaca a possível existência de planetas cuja atmosfera seria tão densa a ponto de preservar água líquida na superfície mesmo a temperaturas bem mais baixas que a terrestre. Read more [+]

Revisitando a geek syndrome

The Geek Syndrome and Autism: Revisited

The Geek Syndrome and Autism: Revisited

The “Geek Syndrome” is a theory for the rising number of autism diagnoses that doesn’t have anything to do with vaccines or environmental factors. About a decade ago, Wired magazine suggested that the notable increase in autism cases among the computer programmers and engineers in Silicon Valley was because those who inhabit those “geek warrens” have a “genetic predisposition” for autism. Now, under Rosa Hoekstra of the Open University in Milton Keynes in the UK, researchers have found that in Eindhoven, a city that is the heart of the Dutch information technology industry, autism is diagnosed in twice as many children as in cities of the same size.

In the Wired article, Cambridge University psychology professor Simon Baron-Cohen described the autistic mind as having a “proclivity for systematizing” while, due to the lack of a theory of mind, autistic persons are “mindblind” and lack empathy. Baron-Cohen would go on to write a book promoting a theory of autism as an example of the “extreme male brain,” saying that the male brain is “systematizing” while the female one is “empathizing.” These theories are well-known but controversial (and his most recent book on empathy and the problem of evil contains some troubling theorizing about autism)

Hoekstra’s study, which was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, looked at the autism prevalence in 62,000 children in three Dutch cities. Eindhoven, Haarlem and Utrecht all have populations of about a quarter of a million; only Eindhoven has a heavy concentration of IT workers. As noted in New Scientist:

In Eindhoven, where 30 per cent of all jobs are in IT and computing industries, there were 229 cases of autism-spectrum disorders per 10,000 school-age children. This was more than double the corresponding figure of 84 in Haarlem and four times the figure of 57 in Utrecht. Each city has half as many IT jobs as Eindhoven.

By contrast, all three cities had the same prevalence of two other childhood psychiatric conditions unrelated to autism, namely attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyspraxia.

Hoekstra notes that other reasons for the higher prevalence rate in Eindhoven could be greater awareness and the availability of better services. It’s been almost ten years since the Wired article on “the Geek Syndrome” was published and autism has certainly gotten a lot of attention in the public eye.

Some of Baron-Cohen’s earlier research found that fathers and grandfathers of children with autism are more likely to be engineers and scientists, and that mathematicians are more likely to have siblings on the autism spectrum.  Other studies in the UK, Japan and the Netherlands have found a higher than usual rate of autistic traits among engineering, science and mathematics students.

In my own household, the gender aspects of Baron-Cohen’s “extreme male brain” theory are reversed. I count several engineers (including my mother’s father, a civil engineer who was a bridge inspector for the state of California), computer programmers and IT types. There’s nary an engineer (or any one in the science or medical fields) in my husband’s family. Indeed, Jim tends to be more of what Baron-Cohen would call “empathetic,” with an intuitive feel for people’s (certainly Charlie’s) moods and states of mind. I’m no scientist myself, but definitely have “systematizing” tendencies, which helped me learn the complex grammar of ancient languages and music like Bach’s fugues (whereas, if Jim hadn’t become a historian, he had thoughts of being a courtroom lawyer, a profession that everyone in my family shies away from). I’ve often thought that if things had turned out differently, and I hadn’t discovered Latin and Greek in middle school, I could have been a coder. Charlie himself is quite the systematizer.

I’ve also wrote a bit more extensively about Charlie himself and Baron-Cohen’s “extreme male brain” theory of autism here and his theory of autism and mind-blindness here, with the caveat that these are theories that many do not agree with. Still, I find them helpful as we continue to try to understand why Charlie does what he does: He doesn’t just make arrangements like the one below without a lot of thought and care.

headphone suite

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/the-geek-syndrome-revisited.html#ixzz2RO5G7aZW

Historiadores da Ciência rejeitam a tese de conflito entre Ciência e Religião

Mais material para o meu livro sobre Ateísmo 3.0

Conflict thesis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For a socio-historical theory with a similar name, see Conflict theory.

Conflict: Galileo before the Holy Office, byJoseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury, a 19th century depiction of the Galileo Affair, religion suppressing heliocentric science.

The conflict thesis is the proposition that there is an intrinsic intellectual conflict between religion and science and that the relationship between religion and science inevitably leads to public hostility. The thesis, refined beyond its most simplistic original forms, remains generally popular. However, historians of science no longer support it.[1][2][3][4]


Read more [+]

Mais Ateísmo 3.0

Livro 1 aqui. Livro 2 aqui.

Paper abaixo: Mais uma referência para meu livro sobre o estudo científico das origens da Religião e do Ateísmo. É curioso que, ao contrário do que se poderia esperar usando uma amostra de ateus na internet (que eu sei que é estatisticamente tendenciosa porque a amostra é auto-selecionada), esta pesquisa estatística mostra que, em geral, ateus americanos não escondem sua identidade religiosa por medo de retaliações ou discriminação social. Pelo contrário, a maior motivação é de certa forma paternalista, no sentido de preservar ou proteger parentes amados (por exemplo, mães e avós) de uma realidade que possivelmente eles não entenderiam. Eu acrescentaria aqui a motivação de preservar ou conservar relações amorosas quando um dos parceiros tem tendências religiosas ou espirituais, a exemplo de Penny e Leonard no The Big Bang Theory.

Open Peer Commentary

Insights from studying prejudice in the context of American atheists

Eric P. Charlesa1, Nicholas J. Rowlanda2, Brooke Longa3 and Fritz Yarrisona3

a1 Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, Altoona, PA 16602. [email protected]http://www.charlespsychology.com

a2 Department of Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University, Altoona, PA 16602. [email protected]http://www.sites.google.com/site/professorrowland/

a3 Department of Sociology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242.


Our research on non-religion supports the proposed shift toward more interactive models of prejudice. Being nonreligious is easily hideable and, increasingly, of low salience, leading to experiences not easily understood via traditional or contemporary frameworks for studying prejudice and prejudice reduction. This context affords new opportunity to observe reverse forms of interactive prejudice, which can interfere with prejudice reduction. Read more [+]

Em Alfa Centauri B, planeta com massa igual à da Terra

Acredito que o Paradoxo de Fermi tem um poder heurístico ainda inexplorado. Ou seja, o Paradoxo pode ser usado como evidência (a ser explicada) contra possibilidades ou especulações científicas tais como Inteligência Artificial, Viagens por Túneis de Minhoca ou Máquinas do Tempo. Ele estabelece afirmações de impossibilidade similares ao enunciado da segunda lei da Termodinâmica em termos de impossibilidade de se criar uma máquina do Moto Perpétuo.

Por exemplo, seja R(t) o raio de detecção de civilizações extraterrestres, ou seja, um raio (que depende do tempo) no qual nossa tecnologia é capaz de detectar tais civilizações. Podemos afirmar a partir desse conceito que não existe nenhuma civilização mais avançada que a nossa em um raio menor que R(t), dado que ela teria tido tempo de nos detectar e possivelmente nos colonizar.

Por outro lado, seja R_c o raio de colonização da civilização galática mais próxima do Sol e seja D a distância entre o centro dessa civilização e o Sol. Pelo Paradoxo de Fermi (“Onde está todo mundo?”), podemos concluir que D > R_c, a menos que o processo de colonização não seja descrito por uma difusão simples mas sim por uma difusão anômala, talvez fractal, de modo que a Terra se situa dentro de uma bolha vazia, não colonizada. Sendo assim, podemos concluir que não existem civilizações avançadas próximas de nós.

Também podemos prever que não estamos em uma região típica da Galáxia (em termos de densidade de planetas habitáveis). O mais provável é que estamos em uma região atípica (similar ao Deserto do Saara aqui na Terra) onde os planetas habitáveis e habitados são raros.  Ou seja, eu posso prever com algum grau de confiança que o telescópio Kepler vai detectar uma distribuição de planetas atípica (em termos de massa, distância da estrela central, presença na zona habitável da estrela – onde é possível haver água líquida etc.). Ou seja, vai ser muito difícil achar nas proximidades do Sol um planeta tipo Terra, situado na zona habitável de uma estrela mais velha que o Sol, pois tal planeta possivelmente seria habitado e sua civilização já teria  tido um monte de tempo para nos colonizar. 

Por outro lado, podemos usar o Paradoxo de Fermi para eliminar a possibilidade de Inteligencia Artificial Forte Auto-reprodutiva (sondas de Von Newman ou Monolitos Negros do filme 2010). Se tais sondas fossem factíveis de serem criadas, elas estariam já aqui.

Bom, a alternativa à todos esses argumentos baseados no Paradoxo de Fermi é que eles realmente já estão aqui: podemos elaborar todo tipo de raciocínio conspiratório à la Arquivo X para tentar justificar a pergunta básica de porque os ETs, se realmente existem, não entram em contado conosco. Uma hipótese menos conspiratória seria que eles são antropólogos bonzinhos que já aprenderam que toda civilização inferior é destruída ou no mínimo absorvida culturalmente, pela civilização superior após um contato (Hipótese Zoo).

Finalmente, o Paradoxo de Fermi aumenta o ceticismo em relação à viagens com velocidade superluminal, warp drives etc. E uma versão temporal do Paradoxo pergunta: se é possível construir máquinas do tempo, onde estão os visitantes temporais? 

17/10/2012 – 05h05

Pesquisadores encontram planeta vizinho que é gêmeo da Terra


É provavelmente a notícia mais esperada desde que o primeiro planeta fora do Sistema Solar foi descoberto, em meados dos anos 1990. Finalmente foi encontrado um planeta que tem praticamente a mesma massa da Terra.

E a grande surpresa: ele fica ao redor de Alfa Centauri, o conjunto estelar mais próximo do Sol. Read more [+]

Novo artigo sobre automata celulares e Paradoxo de Fermi

Saiu um novo artigo sobre a hipótese de percolação para o Paradoxo de Fermi, onde simulações de automata celulares em três dimensões são usadas.  Dessa vez, a conclusão dos autores é a de que as simulações não suportam a hipótese.

Bom, acho que isso não é o fim da história. Eu já sabia que, para a hipótese dar certo, a difusão deveria ser critica (ou seja, formando um cluster crítico ou levemente supercrítico de planetas ocupados).

Ou seja, a hipótese precisa ser complementada com algum argumento de porque a difusão deveria ser crítica. Bom, como sistemas críticos são abundantes nos processos sociais e biológicos, eu acho que basta encontrar esse fator de criticalidade para justificar o modelo. Minha heurística seria: Read more [+]

Para que servem os ateus?


Coelhos = religiosos, raposas = ateus?

Estou achando que preciso correr para escrever o meu livro intitulado “Deus e Acaso”, baseado em postagens deste blog. Alguns dos temas do livro já estão sendo discutidos em papers recentes, parece que existe um interesse cada vez maior sobre o assunto. Ver por exemplo o artigo abaixo, que foi um target article em um número inteiro dedicado a discussões desse tipo na revista Religion, Brain & Behavior.

What are atheists for? Hypotheses on the functions of non-belief in the evolution of religion

DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2012.667948

Dominic Johnsona*
pages 48-70

Version of record first published: 27 Apr 2012


An explosion of recent research suggests that religious beliefs and behaviors are universal, arise from deep-seated cognitive mechanisms, and were favored by natural selection over human evolutionary history. However, if a propensity towards religious beliefs is a fundamental characteristic of human brains (as both by-product theorists and adaptationists agree), and/or an important ingredient of Darwinian fitness (as adaptationists argue), then how do we explain the existence and prevalence of atheists – even among ancient and traditional societies? The null hypothesis is that – like other psychological traits – due to natural variation among individuals in genetics, physiology, and cognition, there will always be a range of strengths of religious beliefs. Atheists may therefore simply represent one end of a natural distribution of belief. However, an evolutionary approach to religion raises some more interesting adaptivehypotheses for atheism, which I explore here. Key among them are: (1) frequency dependence may mean that atheism as a “strategy” is selected for (along with selection for the “strategy” of belief), as long as atheists do not become too numerous; (2) ecological variation may mean that atheism outperforms belief in certain settings or at certain times, maintaining a mix in the overall population; (3) the presence of atheists may reinforce or temper religious beliefs and behaviors in the face of skepticism, boosting religious commitment, credibility, or practicality in the group as a whole; and (4) the presence of atheists may catalyze the functional advantages of religion, analogous to the way that loners or non-participants can enhance the evolution of cooperation. Just as evolutionary theorists ask what religious beliefs are “for” in terms of functional benefits for Darwinian fitness, an evolutionary approach suggests we should also at least consider what atheists might be for.

A solução de percolação para o Paradoxo de Fermi

Parece que a idéia de Geoffrey A. Landis para resolver o Paradoxo de Fermi vai ser conhecida como solução de Percolação. Branislav Vukotic e Milan M. Cirkovik implementaram recentemente um modelo de automata celulares para descrever o processo de colonização galática. Uma das conclusões foi a de que a hipótese de colonização percolativa é consistente com o modelo. Ou seja, não é uma prova que a idéia esteja correta, mas sim que é uma idéia viável e não foi refutada pelas simulações. Nas palavras dos autores:

The porosity of large  = 3 clusters in our simulations (Fig. 6), coupled with low V/V0 (Fig. 11), demonstrates how this still seems acceptable within the ”Copernican” framework, thus essentially confirming the conclusions of Landis (1998) and Kinouchi (2001), but with addition of catastrophic reset events.

Astrobiological Complexity with Probabilistic Cellular Automata

B. VukotićM. M. Ćirković
(Submitted on 15 Jun 2012 (v1), last revised 25 Jun 2012 (this version, v2))

Search for extraterrestrial life and intelligence constitutes one of the major endeavors in science, but has yet been quantitatively modeled only rarely and in a cursory and superficial fashion. We argue that probabilistic cellular automata (PCA) represent the best quantitative framework for modeling astrobiological history of the Milky Way and its Galactic Habitable Zone. The relevant astrobiological parameters are to be modeled as the elements of the input probability matrix for the PCA kernel. With the underlying simplicity of the cellular automata constructs, this approach enables a quick analysis of large and ambiguous input parameters’ space. We perform a simple clustering analysis of typical astrobiological histories and discuss the relevant boundary conditions of practical importance for planning and guiding actual empirical astrobiological and SETI projects. In addition to showing how the present framework is adaptable to more complex situations and updated observational databases from current and near-future space missions, we demonstrate how numerical results could offer a cautious rationale for continuation of practical SETI searches.

Comments: Added minor language corrections, 37 pages, 11 figures, 2 tables; “Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres,” accepted for publication
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Cellular Automata and Lattice Gases (nlin.CG); Computational Physics (physics.comp-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:1206.3467v2 [astro-ph.IM]

Persistence solves Fermi Paradox but challenges SETI projects

Osame Kinouchi (DFM-FFCLRP-Usp)
(Submitted on 8 Dec 2001)

Persistence phenomena in colonization processes could explain the negative results of SETI search preserving the possibility of a galactic civilization. However, persistence phenomena also indicates that search of technological civilizations in stars in the neighbourhood of Sun is a misdirected SETI strategy. This last conclusion is also suggested by a weaker form of the Fermi paradox. A simple model of a branching colonization which includes emergence, decay and branching of civilizations is proposed. The model could also be used in the context of ant nests diffusion.

Comments: 2 pages, no figures, v2 with corrected definition of branching ratio
Subjects: Disordered Systems and Neural Networks (cond-mat.dis-nn); Statistical Mechanics (cond-mat.stat-mech)
Cite as: arXiv:cond-mat/0112137v1 [cond-mat.dis-nn]

Aprendendo com games

Se você está preocupado pelo fato de seu filho “gastar” horas em games em vez de “estudar para ser capaz de trabalhar”, o artigo abaixo sugere que você é adepto da filosofia Baining de vida. O que precisaria ser melhor estudado é que tipo de aprendizagem ocorre durante os games: Reações neuromotoras e tomadas de decisão rápidas? Habituação emocional em ambientes hostis simulados que lembram sonhos? Socialização em jogos online? Bom, uma tese de doutorado examina a aprendizagem através de games aqui.

Freedom to Learn

The roles of play and curiosity as foundations for learning.
by Peter Gray
Bateson called them “drab and colorless:” The culture where play is shameful.
Published on July 20, 2012 by Peter Gray in Freedom to Learn


Note to readers (added Aug. 5, 2012): In your reading of this essay, please include the comment (on page 2 of the comments) by Professor Jane Fajans, the anthropologist whose writings I have made use of for this post.  Her comment is entitled “Work and Play Among the Baining” (which is also part of the subtitle of her fascinating book), and it offers a couple of significant corrections to what I say here.  Perhaps most important, Fajans notes that Baining adults, in her experience, did not so much actively prevent children’s play as devalue it. I wish also to take this opportunity to emphasize a point that I could have made more fully in this essay: The attitude of the Baining toward play is very different from that of hunter-gatherers, and, correlated with that, their adult character is also very different. If you follow the links in the third paragraph below, you will find more about hunter-gatherers and play. I wish to add also that this essay is clearly not about race but about culture, and if there is value judgment, it is judgment grounded in my own culturally-produced biases. -PG

The Baining—one of the indigenous cultural groups of Papua New Guinea—have the reputation, at least among some researchers, of being the dullest culture on earth. Early in his career, in the 1920s, the famous British anthropologist Gregory Bateson spent 14 months among them, until he finally left in frustration. He called them “unstudiable,” because of their reluctance to say anything interesting about their lives and their failure to exhibit much activity beyond the mundane routines of daily work, and he later wrote that they lived “a drab and colorless existence.” Forty years later, Jeremy Pool, a graduate student in anthropology, spent more than a year living among them in the attempt to develop a doctoral dissertation. He too found almost nothing interesting to say about the Baining, and the experience caused him to leave anthropology and go into computer science (reference here).  Finally, however, anthropologist Jane Fajans, now at Cornell University, figured out a way to study them.[1] Read more [+]

Neutrinos, Higgs e LHC no BLOGPULSE

Blogosfera como meio excitável

Oi Osame,

Você viu este paper?


Pelo jeito alguém teve a mesma ideia que você…


doi:10.1016/j.physa.2011.05.033 | How to Cite or Link Using DOI

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The blogosphere as an excitable social medium: Richter’s and Omori’s Law in media coverage

Peter KlimekabWerner BayeraStefan ThurnerbcaCorresponding Author Contact InformationE-mail The Corresponding AuthorE-mail The Corresponding Author

a IIASA, Schlossplatz 1, A 2361 Laxenburg, Austria
b Section for Science of Complex Systems, Medical University of Vienna, Spitalgasse 23, A 1090 Vienna, Austria
c Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

Received 10 February 2011; revised 15 April 2011; Available online 15 June 2011.


We study the dynamics of public media attention by monitoring the content of online blogs. Social and media events can be traced by the propagation of word frequencies of related keywords. Media events are classified as exogenous–where blogging activity is triggered by an external news item–or endogenous where word frequencies build up within a blogging community without external influences. We show that word occurrences exhibit statistical similarities to earthquakes. Moreover the size distribution of events scales with a similar exponent as found in the Gutenberg–Richter law. The dynamics of media events before and after the main event can be satisfactorily modeled as a type of process which has been used to understand fore–and aftershock rate distributions in earthquakes–the Omori law. We present empirical evidence that for media events of endogenous origin the overall public reception of the event is correlated with the behavior of word frequencies at the beginning of the event, and is to a certain degree predictable. These results imply that the process of opinion formation in a human society might be related to effects known from excitable media.


► Dynamics of public media attention measured by online blogs. ► Society as an excitable social medium. ► Media events have statistical characteristics of earthquakes. ► Public media reception to a certain degree predictable.

Keywords: Excitable social system; Statistical human dynamics; Empirical power laws