Galam’s Work on Galam Models (Reviewed by Galam)

In 2008, French physicist Serge Galam wrote a review article about “Galam models,” in which he cited 71 papers, all of which were written or cowritten by him. Galam specializes in a topic known as “social physics” (or “sociophysics” for short), an area of complex systems that concerns the use of ideas and tools from physics to study collective social […]

First Rule of Ant Fight Club: Choose a Model for Ant Fight Club

Two ants enter; one ant leaves. (Well, the numbers are actually somewhat larger than that.) In the paper Modeling ant battles by means of a diffusion-limited Gillespie algorithm, biologist Giacomo Santini and his coauthors have proposed two modeling approaches for studying battles among ants. When developing theories (for animal behavior and in other complex systems), […]

Banding-together of breeders: Seven sperm abreast

Ig Nobel Prize winner Mahadevan (2007 Ig Nobel physics prize, for studying how sheets become wrinkled) and colleagues have taken an applied-mathematical look at yet another unanswered question. As happens so often with Mahadevan and his merry, varying band of collaborators, a better-than-anyone-had-before answer appeared. Details are in this study: “The dynamics of sperm cooperation in a competitive […]

Using mathematics to describe things no one knows how to describe well

Here are two cases where: (A)  people used mathematical equations to describe complicated things that nobody understands very well; and then (B) other people noticed the, uh, discrepancy. The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happiness: “It seemed incredible to Brown, as though it had been made up. But the number was no invention. […]