The Complex Networks of Our Planet

Margherita Olivo
April 25th 2016

Our planet is composed of millions of networks. The balance between the animal species and their habitats. The migrations in history. The financial flows between countries and continents. Everything that happens in the world, on a microscopic scale as well as globally, is potentially describable as a set of mathematical functions. The more accurate they are, the more useful they will be to depict not only the present but also the future reality.

Understanding the complexity and the logic behind these systems and predicting possible consequences of the extinction of a particular species, for example, was almost impossible. Until now. There is a whole branch of physics devoted to studying the relationships between the various systems, the so-called complex networks.

This five-minute data visualization by Mauro Martino, head of the Cognitive Visualization Lab for IBM Watson, and Jianxi Gao, researcher at Northeastern University, will give you the opportunity to understand these networks. The project is what Martino calls a "data-film", a video able to visualize complicated scientific and statistical ideas through animation.

"The image of four lines is not as seductive as a dynamic network or a 3-D planet full of links" Martino says. "But I tried to force people to look at the reality, that the beauty of a discovery can be found in predicting when a simple line breaks, that the beauty is in understanding what's behind that line". 

Source: Nature

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What is your view on the coronavirus?

Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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