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{Monday, May 17, 2004}

In Search of the Mother of All Networks

Motifs distinguish networks by Kimberly Patch (Technology Research News)
"There are many types of networks in the world -- computer webs like the Internet, connections among components in electronics, relationships among friends and acquaintances, transportation grids, food relationships among animals, connections among neurons, and interactions among genes.
Scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and [Cold] Spring Harbor Laboratory have shown that it is possible to categorize networks by looking at certain recurring circuits, or motifs, within the networks. "The motifs are small, local, wiring patterns that occur throughout the network," said Uri Alon, a senior scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science."

Susan Stepney reviews Stuart A. Kauffman
"[...] Macready and Wolpert's "no-free-lunch" theorem tells us that there is no one search algorithm better than any other when its performance is averaged over all search landscapes. Random search is as good as any other on average. So how come the search algorithms evolution uses just happen to be ones that work well on the evolutionary fitness landscape? Coincidence? No. The creatures and the fitness landscapes co-construct each other ..."

Prolegomenon to a General Biology [vide Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences]

"If the day should ever come that we understand how life emerges from a dance of lifeless chemicals, or how consciousness arises from billions of unconscious neurons, that understanding will surely rest on a deep theory of complex networks."
Steven Strogatz - Sync : The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order
(Penguin, 2004, page 232)

Stuart A. Kauffman - Working for a Living
"There is a chance that there are general laws. I've thought about four of them. One of them says that autonomous agents have to live the most complex game that they can. The second has to do with the construction of ecosystems. The third has to do with Per Bak's self-organized criticality in ecosystems. And the fourth concerns the idea of the adjacent possible."

Investigations by Stuart A. Kauffman [via Alamut]
A reader from Rockville, MD USA writes: "Investigations" marks a new phase in Stuart Kauffman's seminal work on self-organization and complexity. In this fascinating extension of his theoretical approach to the generation of order in the universe, he focuses on the idea of the autonomous agent, which forms the basis for a new and more precise definition of the living organism. The autonomous agent, according to Kauffman, is an organization of matter that extracts works from its environment in order to maintain its structural and functional integrity over time. An autonomous agent is one that does work on its own behalf. Kauffman goes into considerable physical detail to show how this is not only possible but inevitable. Because of the intimate relation between work and self-maintenance in this schema, Kauffman speaks of organisms as exemplifying a fourth law of thermodynamics that allows for increasing organizational complexity in the midst of a universe whose entropy is constantly increasing.
The fourth law explains how the diversity of the biosphere continues to increase through an exploration of "the adjacent possible," the realm of alternative organizations reachable through single mutations. In this view, the proliferation of life forms is not so much the result of chance as it is of a working out of the natural tendency of existing entities to self-organize into structures of greater and greater complexity.

Smart Mobs: MeshForum - A conference on networks
Network is a term with increasing use today. It covers historical meanings such as "network news", more recent meanings [such as] "terrorist networks", and popular meanings such as "business networking" or "networking for a job". In more formal terms, Networks are interconnected nodes, the study of networks is the study of these systems, generally over time. It covers the mapping and identification of the system of interconnected elements, the study of how this interaction occurs or can occur (i.e. the links and "using" them). It also covers how such systems change over time and what 'shapes' are formed, as well as what other properties can be discovered (such as not just that "a path exists" but studying how paths are found and "used").
For MeshForum, networks mean many things.

Gary Singh reviews Uncanny Networks
Joel Slayton, director of the CADRE Laboratory for New Media at San Jose State University, wrote the forward for Uncanny Networks. "Silicon Valley doesn't sit in the world autonomously by itself," he warns. "The Internet has created a distributed consciousness throughout the world, resulting in people working and thinking about technology in many different ways. And we often aren't conscious of the fact that there are other ways of looking at the issues surrounding networked culture and the emergence of new media. Geert Lovink has been traveling the world, interviewing new media artists and artists working with networked technology and getting their viewpoints. It's important to hear what he has to say."

The Erasure of Technology in Cultural Critique
"Technological exteriority cannot be bracketed off and posed as a question. In particular, it cannot be bracketed off from the human being as a creature that invents itself within technics (Stiegler, 1998: 134, and for Stiegler, as for Derrida, language is a form of technics). Technology infiltrates agency, it interferes with the way in which we formulate the question – and not just in Haraway's sense of the polymorphic, semi-permeable cyborg. This is not a metaphor for subject-constitution, or more precisely, this is not a choice. These machines have always been here, they are always there ..."
Belinda Barnet - Fibreculture Journal Issue 1

deconstructor: Ambient Information Environments
"There is an ever-widening interface between computation and the physical environment, and this company [Ambient Devices] seems to be one of the few which is working intelligently on the question of how to adapt the incredible power of computation to the ways in which humans really think and perceive, while at the same time making technology more humane and enjoyable.
[...] When was the last time your news was calm and glanceable??"

Marcel Duchamp's 'The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes' (1912) and the Invisible World of Electrons - An essay by Linda Dalryple Henderson
" ... as for the swift nudes, they were the trails which crisscross the painting ..."

Raymond Spencer Rodgers - Man in the Telesphere (1971)
"Probably for some years the authenticity of this startling document - and Rodgers' 1951 teenage vision that computers would "shrink, and link, and help us think" - was doubted."

Kevin Kelly -- Out of Control - Chapter 2: Hive Mind (1994)
"For many years Mark Thompson, a beekeeper local to my area, had the bizarre urge to build a Live-In Hive -- an active bee home you could visit by inserting your head into it. He was working in a yard once when a beehive spewed a swarm of bees "like a flow of black lava, dissolving, then taking wing." The black cloud coalesced into a 20-foot-round black halo of 30,000 bees that hovered, UFO-like, six feet off the ground, exactly at eye level. The flickering insect halo began to drift slowly away, keeping a constant six feet above the earth. It was a Live-In Hive dream come true.
Mark didn't waver. Dropping his tools he slipped into the swarm, his bare head now in the eye of a bee hurricane. He trotted in sync across the yard as the swarm eased away. Wearing a bee halo, Mark hopped over one fence, then another. He was now running to keep up with the thundering animal in whose belly his head floated. They all crossed the road and hurried down an open field, and then he jumped another fence. He was tiring. The bees weren't; they picked up speed. The swarm-bearing man glided down a hill into a marsh. The two of them now resembled a superstitious swamp devil, humming, hovering, and plowing through the miasma. Mark churned wildly through the muck trying to keep up. Then, on some signal, the bees accelerated. They unhaloed Mark and left him standing there wet, "in panting, joyful amazement." Maintaining an eye-level altitude, the swarm floated across the landscape until it vanished, like a spirit unleashed, into a somber pine woods across the highway.
"Where is 'this spirit of the hive'...where does it reside?" asks the author Maurice Maeterlinck ..."

The computer: from the mundane to the mondial (1971)
"... the term "universal machine" can be visualized in yet another sense. We can visualize the linkage of computer systems on a global basis, so that stored data and specific operations can be dialed-up throughout the universal system. The universal system would thus be composed of computers and telecommunication links. Such a system is not feasible given the present political structure of world society. It would be strongly rejected as communications "colonialism", given the present location and control of the most important equipment (including data banks). But we already have one relatively "universal" system with telephonic intercontinental direct dialing. Other "universal" systems include those of cooperating international airlines. The barriers to more rapid universalization are political and economic, rather than technical (19b)"
Raymond Spencer Rodgers

19b. In the preface to The Computerized Society (Prentice-Hall, 1970), James Martin and Adrian Norman say "we may someday talk not about separate computers, but rather a vast organism interconnected by telecommunications links." Later (p. 68) they talk of a "catalogue of remote systems" which "will grow, multiply, and interlink. A countrywide, and probably a worldwide, network of computers that can be dialed up on the existing telecommunications will be available to us before many years have passed."

Definition of Internet - wordIQ Dictionary
Internet : n. The mother of all networks. First incarnated beginning in 1969 as the ARPANET, a U.S. Department of Defense research testbed. Though it has been widely believed that the goal was to develop a network architecture for military command-and-control that could survive disruptions up to and including nuclear war, this is a myth; in fact, ARPANET was conceived from the start as a way to get most economical use out of then-scarce large-computer resources. As originally imagined, ARPANET's major use would have been to support what is now called remote login and more sophisticated forms of distributed computing ...

Out of Control: Stimuli for a swarm-being
"The sum of fifty thousand bees is a being whose intelligence cannot be inferred by studying the individual insect. The swarm is a distributed organism whose existence in both space and time outreaches the individual member, and which can find new solutions to new problems."
Dagfinn Fjelddalen

The Image - Conflict Research Consortium summary
"The Image: Knowledge in Life and Society (1956) will be of interest to those seeking to understand how individual worldviews are created and changed, and how such worldviews affect behavior. This work is divided into eleven chapters. In Chapter One [Kenneth Ewart] Boulding introduces the concept of the image. Image refers to one's subjective knowledge of the world, one's worldview, one's sense of being located in space and time, and in a web of human relations and emotions. Two propositions follow. First, a person's behavior depends on their image of the world. Second, the meaning of a message is the change which it produces in the image. There are three sorts of effect a message may have. The image may remain unaffected. The message may be simply added onto the image. The image may undergo revolutionary change and reorganization."

City Grids and the Imageability of Software Architectures : Tesugen
"In his book, [Kevin] Lynch refers to subways as detached from the city. Subways are invisible. They cannot "be related to the rest of the environment except where they come up for air," as Lynch writes. Later he points out that people often use subway stations, even when going by car, as "nodes," to determine where they are."

Visualicity – on urban visibility and invisibility [PDF; via Space and Culture]
"Cities are an example of phenomena too extensive in scale to be empirically visible to the human eye in one glance, yet are taken for granted by virtue of our faith that the totality of the urban can be glimpsed from a part." Rob Shields

A Golden Hive
"Affirmation of life-AND-death turns out to be one in the Elegies.... It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again, "invisibly," inside us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible. The Elegies show us at this work, the work of the continual conversion of the beloved visible and tangible world into the invisible vibrations and agitation of our own nature...." Rainer Maria Rilke - in a letter about his Duino Elegies

The Swarmbots Are Coming - Slashdot
FlyingOrca comments: "I've sometimes wondered whether ants, with their chemical communication systems, might not in effect form a single distributed organism, with its neurotransmitters on the outside."

Usman Haque: Invisible topographies from (receiver 9)
Usman Haque writes: [...] While we have been concerned about the health effects of electromagnetic radiation (from power lines or mobile phone handsets), these waves often exist as natural phenomena in the form of radio waves emanating from distant stars, gamma rays coming from elements here on earth or even electrical waves from inside our own skulls. Humans have only recently begun contributing to the cacophony with their pagers, medical devices, television broadcasts and mobile phones. This abundant invisible territory, a topography that is altered in shape and intensity by both natural and human-constructed landscapes, has been called "hertzian space" by industrial design theorist Anthony Dunne. He has observed that hertzian space is often ignored by designers saying, in Hertzian Tales, that the "material responses to immaterial electromagnetic fields can lead to new aesthetic possibilities for architecture."

Chaos seems to aid learning by Kimberly Patch (Technology Research News)
"Although it's clear that the cerebellum is the part of the human brain involved in coordinating movements in ways that allow people to learn skills like riding a bike, there are mysteries about how the learning process works.
Researchers from Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST) in Japan have built a computer simulation of the inferior olive, a portion of the brain that probably relays errors in movement to the cerebellum. It has been difficult to explain the mechanics of this relationship because inferior olive cells that connect to the cerebellum fire slowly, and this does not fit well with the common hypothesis that high-fidelity error signals are needed for efficient learning.
The researchers got the idea for the simulation after initial research showed that if neurons were electrically coupled, or linked, a certain type of chaotic signal could emerge. The researchers' simulation shows that moderate electrical coupling between nerve cells in the inferior olive could produce a type of chaotic firing that effectively recodes the high-frequency information into slower signals by imparting information within the rhythm rather than just the frequency of nerve firing. "The chaotic firing was more robust than we expected," said Nicholas Schweighofer, a researcher at Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology. The model shows that "chaos can be useful in the brain," he said.
In addition to allowing researchers to better understand the mechanics of the brain, the researchers' theory of chaotic resonance could speed electronic communications and improve robotics. "In communications, our work [could] maximize the information transmitted in networks," he said. "In robotics, chaos could be used to explore the environment to optimize learning," he said."

How Ants Find Food - Mute SourceForge
"Many species of ants communicate with their nest-mates using chemical scents known as pheromones. Pheromones can be used in many ways by ants and other animals (including humans), but we are most interested in how ants use pheromones to direct each other through their environment -- this particular task is closely related to the problem of directing the flow of information through a network."

Searching for Loren Eiseley

"I read a while back that a scientific experiment set up by botanists in New Hampshire has found that certain trees give off pheromones, airborne hormones that are carried on the wind like alarm signals when dangers to the trees' health or survival are close at hand. Bodies of scientists are beginning to support the possibility of a level of environmental awareness being transmitted between living organisms. From tree to tree of a like kind, for example, in a forest."
Carol Drinkwater - The Olive Season (Abacus, 2003, page 302)

Wired 12.02: Living Machines
Technology and biology are converging fast. The result will transform everything from engineering to art - and redefine life as we know it.

Christopher Meyer - The New Facts of Life
Scientific advances point to a startling conclusion: The nonliving world is very much alive.
Meyer: "The Internet could allow sensors to interact in emergent ways, forming an autonomic nervous system for the physical world. An early version is taking root in Los Angeles, where sensors at intersections identify approaching buses and ask a central computer whether they're on time. Late buses get the green light; the system gives crossing traffic extra time in subsequent cycles. The result: 25 percent improvement in transit times without creating congestion."

The Man from the Sunflower Forest: A Loren Eiseley Reader
"I am the unfolding worm, and mud fish, the weird tree of Igdrasil shaping itself endlessly out of darkness toward the light. [...] It is in the brain that this world opens."
Loren Eiseley - The Firmament of Time (Victor Gollancz, 1961, pages 168-169)

Yellowstone virus startles scientists with ancient lineage
"A virus found in Yellowstone National Park thermal pools has a structure so ancient that scientists think it sits near the root of the universal tree of life, according to a study published May 3 [2004] in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The discovery has diverse potential, including aiding the search for life on other planets as well as harnessing useful viral products for medicine and industry.
Scientists George Rice and Mark Young of Montana State University found the virus living among organisms called Archaea (archae means ancient) in Yellowstone's Midway Geyser Basin. Archaea is one of three major domains, or types, of life. The others are bacteria and eukarya, which includes plants, animals and humans.
Many archaea are thermophiles, meaning they thrive in hot, acidic conditions like those in Yellowstone Park and the world's other geothermal areas. And like most living things, archaea have viruses that infect them."
Annette Trinity-Stevens

Venus may have bugs, say scientists [BBC News 26 September 2002]
"Scientists in the United States say clouds high in the atmosphere of the planet Venus contain chemicals that may suggest the presence of life.
Space probes have never found any sign of life on Venus, which has an extremely hot surface and an atmosphere that contains a mixture of poisonous chemicals. But Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Louis Irwin, from the University of Texas, say the Venusian atmosphere is "relatively hospitable" and may be home to large numbers of bacteria."

Molecular rings could shelter Venus bugs - New Scientist 03 May 04
Hazel Muir reports: Many probes visited [Venus] in the 1960s and 1970s, but there was no search for life. "At that time, we didn't know about terrestrial life in extreme environments, in hot springs or deep beneath the crust of the Earth," says Schulze-Makuch. "Now that we do, it's time to design missions to look for life in the clouds of Venus."

Methane on Mars could signal life [BBC News 29 March 2004]
"Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign that life exists today on Mars. It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft.
Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished. There are two possible sources: either active volcanoes, none of which have been found yet on Mars, or microbes." Dr David Whitehouse

Early life thrived in lava flows - Paul Rincon [BBC News 22 April 2004]
"Geologists have discovered microscopic burrows where some of Earth's earliest lifeforms bored their way into volcanic glass 3.5 billion years ago. The tubes, from rocks in South Africa's Barberton Greenstone Belt, retain traces of organic carbon left behind by the microorganisms, the authors say."

Hydrocarbon bubbles discovered in meteorite - New Scientist 17 December 2002
Will Knight: "Hollow hydrocarbon bubbles a few microns in diameter have been discovered in a meteorite that crashed into a frozen lake in Canada in 2000. The simple organic structures could have provided a sheltered environment for the development of the first primitive organisms, suggests Michael Zolensky, at NASA's Johnson Space Center. He used an electron microscope to discover the globules, which are a few microns in diameter. "These are ready-made homes," he told New Scientist. [...]
It is the first time that such bubbles have been found on a meteorite, but laboratory experiments designed to simulate conditions in space have produced similar structures. "Some ideas for the evolution of life require a kind of membrane to hold together all the chemicals that you want a cell to use," says Iain Gilmour, of the UK's Open University. "If you have some sort of globular structure, you've got the start of a potential cell structure." Other researchers have suggested that tiny cavities in minerals could have provided the containers from which the first cellular life emerged."

James Brody reviews Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order by Steven Strogatz [Human Nature Review 2003 Volume 3: 494-496]
"It is probable that natural selection for genes was originally guided by the extraordinary power of network rules, themselves a vital, little appreciated part of our original environment of evolutionary adaptation, one more subtle, pervasive and persuasive than mother's milk or a predator's teeth."

Listening to the internet reveals best connections - New Scientist 27 November 2002
Anil Ananthaswamy: "The reliability and strength of internet connections can be assessed by listening to the sounds they make, according to Chris Chafe, a cellist and director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University in California.
[...] To check the quality of an internet connection, engineers "ping" a data packet to a remote computer, which bounces it back like an echo. This reveals the latency of the connection, or how long it takes for a round trip, and the variation of this over time is known as the jitter. But pinging cannot reveal the detailed subsecond behaviour of the jitter, and this is the timescale that is important in interactive applications like telemedicine.
Chafe wondered if variations in jitter could be converted into a musical form. A musician can easily hear small changes in the tuning of a guitar string, so Chafe decided to model internet connections as guitar strings - twanging them to reveal subtle characteristics missed by pinging.
[...] But simulating a guitar string would not be suitable for a two-dimensional network like that described by the Grid. Instead, says Chafe, you would need to simulate a stretched membrane, such as a drum skin."

Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby - Teleproxemics (1994)
"Proxemics is a term used to describe the study of the social uses of space.
Most verbal communication in the physical world is supported by levels of informal social uses of space operating at almost subliminal levels. Space and distance are used to define and negotiate the interface between private and public, particularly during the moments leading up to contact. This sense of distance is not only visual but also acoustic, thermal and olfactory, and forms a sensory envelope of kinaesthetic sensitivity that varies from person to person and culture to culture. Architecture and furniture design have always allowed this human sensitivity to the social use of space to find material and spatial expression in its output. We are interested in exploring the possibilities of linking this to telecommunications."

Proxemic Theory of Edward T. Hall
"As is true with gravity, Edward T. Hall believes that "the influence of two bodies on each other is inversely proportional not only to the square of the distance but possibly even the cube of the distance between them." Although it's pure speculation, he postulates a mutual chemical impact when our thermal spheres overlap. This would mean that there are times when we're directly wired to another person's emotions, our feelings changing in sync to match his or her mood."

Cognitive Bias + Noncompositionality

"Love is metaphysical gravity." R. Buckminster Fuller

Hertzian Waves + Hertzian microclimates and softspace

Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby - Tuneable Cities (1998)
"Whereas 'cyberspace' is a metaphor that spatialises what happens in computers distributed around the world, hertzian space is actual and physical even though our senses detect only a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Images of footprints of satellite TV transmissions in relation to the surface of the earth, and computer models showing cellular phone propagation in relation to urban environments, reveal that hertzian space is not isotropic but has an 'electroclimate' defined by wavelength, frequency and field strength. Interaction with the natural and artificial landscape creates a hybrid landscape of shadows, reflections, and hot points."

Lines and Waves Exhibit - IEEE History Center
"[...] we have strong reason to conclude that light itself -- including radiant heat, and other radiations if any -- is an electromagnetic disturbance in the form of waves propagated through the electromagnetic field according to electromagnetic laws."
James Clerk Maxwell - Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field (1864)

"Anthony Dunne's Hertzian Tales is about designing ways of knowing the electromagnetic environment we exist within, and establishing a poetic interaction with it through purposeful and critical designs which help establish a cultural awareness of electromagnetism."
Brian Thomas Carroll

Kodwo Eshun reviews The Art Of The Accident
"New forces demand scaling concept manufacture, hence Spuybroek's motor geometry, Perella's hypersurfaces, Jenks' waveforms, Lynn's animate form and UCLA-based Marcos Novak's term transArchitecture -- all are exploring the computer design process that is drastically altering "time and space" into "process and field." From Karl S Chu, whose digital design Sphere of Virtuality convolutes an hourglass into interwrapping cones of "demiurgic space" to Dunne and Raby's exploration of the "invisible tunable city" of Hertzian space, there's an overwhelming sense of liquidity here. The parameters of dimensionality are in flux and the acoustic, virtual, hybrid, generative, evolutionary and intelligent spaces presented multiply this state of novelty by modelling it."

Karl S Chu - The Turing Dimension
"If the world is the infinite effect of an infinite cause, there are, in all likelihood, no binary strings that can encapsulate the hidden logic of the infinite cause in its entirety. The drama of the incomplete thus haunts the infinite extensibility of the tragic effect induced by the Turing Dimension, which, in turn, maps and haunts the infinite expanse of the Universal Turing Surface ingrained with holes and vortices amidst an infozoic (self-organizing systems) ecology teeming with artificial life forms. These holes and vortices are interruptions or caesurae due to intractable problems derived from the incompleteness and undecidability of certain propositions concerning the logic and limits of computation."

Tom Vanderbilt - Walker in the Wireless City [PDF]
"Bryant Park is an example of what the geographer Kevin Lynch, in his classic 1960 book "The Image of the City," called a node. Nodes, as he defined them, "may be primary junctions, places of a break in transportation, a crossing or convergence of paths, moments of shift from one structure to another." They help give "legibility" to the city, help us to orient ourselves. Node is also a word synonymous with hot spot -- a junction of Wi-Fi signals -- and the electronic nodes are turning up in the same parks, airports and public gathering places that Mr. Lynch considered physical nodes."

Interview with Jane Jacobs: Cities and Web Economies [via Matt Webb]
"You know, I think we are misled by universities and other formal intellectual places into thinking that there are actually separate fields of knowledge. And most people know that there aren't. But they are always getting victimized somehow by the idea that there are. And they are delighted when in some respectable way it becomes clear that there are not separate fields of knowledge, that they link up."

"Organisms in environmental linkage comprise hypercognitive symmetries -- and this means they are as unified as they are discrete, cognitively and physically. We might liken this to a form of co-ignition, where proximity and relationship generate new and ever-more complexly connective embodiments of Life. The 'embodiments' are as much alive in the environment as they are in any local participants, which means the environment of any living world becomes a cognitive organism comprised of the assembly of its constituents and their relational and sentient activity. Environment and organism are transunified, and comprise a complete and inseperable entity in every possible case."

Pattern cognition and propagation, morphology, and the cultural memory system
Andreas Goppold: "For prokaryotic organisms, like bacteria, the genetic and individual memory are the same, since these organisms can exchange their genetic material freely, and thus one cell can "learn" from the experiences of another cell through the exchange of genetic material. (Margulis 1991: 199-206). The vigorous genetic interconnection of bacteria can even be called a true planetary-wide distributed organism, a natural organic world wide web ..."

Math Forum: Leonard Euler and the Bridges of Konigsberg
"Topology is one of the newest branches of mathematics. A simple way to describe topology is as a 'rubber sheet geometry' - topologists study those properties of shapes that remain the same when the shapes are stretched or compressed. The 'Euler number' of a 'network' ... is an example of a property that does not change when the network is stretched or compressed.
The foundations of topology are often not part of high school math curricula, and thus for many it sounds strange and intimidating. However, there are some readily graspable ideas at the base of topology that are interesting, fun, and highly applicable to all sorts of situations. One of these areas is the topology of networks, first developed by Leonard Euler in 1735. His work in this field was inspired by the following problem: The Seven Bridges of Konigsberg ..."

All the world's a net
"We are surrounded by networks: social, sexual and professional. Ecosystems are networks, and even our bodies -- and the pathogens that lay us low -- are kept alive by networks of chemicals. [Albert-László] Barabási and others have found that many of these networks have the same architecture as the Web. They grow in much the same way and have the same strengths and weaknesses: understand one and you start to understand them all."

posted by Andrew 5/17/2004 05:08:00 PM