By Mark Buchanan
As Chaos defined the technology of ailment, Nexus unearths the hot technological know-how of connection and the atypical good judgment of six levels of separation."If you ever desired to understand how many hyperlinks attach you and the Pope, or why while the U.S. Federal Reserve financial institution sneezes the worldwide financial system catches chilly, learn this book," writes John L. Casti (Santa Fe Institute). This "cogent and fascinating" (Nature) paintings provides the elemental ideas of the rising box of "small-worlds" theory—the concept that a hidden trend is the main to how networks engage and alternate details, even if that community is the data street or the firing of neurons within the mind. Mathematicians, physicists, machine scientists, and social scientists are operating to decipher this advanced organizational process, for it might yield a blueprint of dynamic interactions inside of our actual in addition to social worlds. Highlighting groundbreaking examine in the back of community idea, "Mark Buchanan's swish, lucid, nontechnical and unique prose" (Mark Granovetter) records the mounting aid between quite a few disciplines for the small-worlds suggestion and demonstrates its functional purposes to different problems—from the risky worldwide economic climate or the Human Genome venture to the unfold of infectious sickness or ecological harm. Nexus is a thrilling advent to the hidden geometry that weaves our lives so inextricably jointly.
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Additional info for Nexus: small worlds and the groundbreaking science of networks
The technique is something like making a map of a nation’s roadways by sending out an army of robots to drive over them all and then to report back on which intersections they went through. By following how packets move through the system, Cheswick and Birch can reconstruct a rough picture of the Internet’s global topology. It is a topology that is gradually changing as engineers put new computers and transmission cables in place, and as the evolution of Internet traffic leads computers to route information along different channels.
Think of each research paper as being linked to a number of others by the references they include. Or, alternatively, think of scientists as being linked to one another by virtue of having been coauthors at some point or other. 16 Studying the collaborations of physicists, biomedical researchers, and computer scientists over a five-year period, for example, Newman found that every scientist could be linked through coauthored papers to every other by only four or five steps. As we will see in more detail in coming chapters, the same pattern holds for food webs, where species link up with one another by virtue of predator-prey relationships, and for America’s most influential businessmen, who are linked by virtue of sitting together on boards of directors of major corporations.
As he sees it, the computer is akin to the steam engine, and the Information Revolution is now at the point at which the Industrial Revolution was in the 1820s. Drucker points out that the most far-reaching changes of the Industrial Revolution came not directly from the steam engine itself, but as a consequence of another unprecedented invention the engine made possible—the railroad. Similarly, he suspects, it is not computers or the Internet that will be world-changing, but rather, one of their recent spin-offs: “e-Commerce is to the Information Revolution what the railroad was to the Industrial Revolution—a totally new, totally unprecedented, totally unexpected development.