Thursday, July 13, 2006

Self-Organizing Interactions

The American Physical Society has a couple of fascinating articles. The first is about a new study called "Dynamics of Information Access on the Web":

Online news stories typically have a 36 hour shelf life, according to a study by a group of physicists hailing from Notre Dame University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Harvard. While traditional print and broadcast news media are constrained by 24 hour daily schedules, visits to online news stories typically peak within a few hours and decay rapidly over the course of a day and a half. The study shows that, mathematically speaking, visits to online news stories follow a pattern in time that is similar to maps of connections between web sites and social groups. That is, visits to news stories decreased in the form of a power law - a mathematical law that turns up frequently in self-organizing interactions in nature and society, which are frequently studied in a field of physics know as complexity theory....

In addition to revealing the form of the decay in news story interest, the researchers confirmed that comparative interest in specific stories also varied with a power law, which in turns shows that most visitors only view the headlines of about 53% of items on a news site, and actually read only 7% of news stories.
The second is about an unsuspected form of quantum entanglement:
If you are still coming to grips with the quantum weirdness of entanglement, where two or more particles essentially become a single quantum object even though they may be in entirely different places, then hold on to your hats. Physicists at Austria's University Wien and Osterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften have experimentally demonstrated that entanglement itself can become entangled. By entangling three photons and making a measurement on one of them, the group was able to learn about the entangled state of the other two photons.
Go figure!

(Illustration: Gabriel Sizes, Etude Exp√©rimentale d’Acoustique Musicale. Courtesy of BibliOdyssey.)


juniper pearl said...

i always ranked the theory of quantum entanglement among the greatest love stories ever told, but now it's a triangle, and i feel all disillusioned. maybe i need to start thinking of them as siblings, instead of letting my inner sucker for epic romance run all wild.

Phila said...

maybe i need to start thinking of them as siblings, instead of letting my inner sucker for epic romance run all wild.

I dunno. Epic romance is full of triangles, plus the occasional menage-a-trois.

Still, they may just be going through a phase...perhaps they'll settle down later in life.

Nice to see you, by the way. Missed you!

juniper pearl said...

i am infinitely missable. still, that was a very sweet thing to say. i've missed you less, i suppose, as i've been breezing in and out shrouded in my cloak of comment-free cyberinvisibility, but i promise to speak up more from now on.