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 […]

Pedestrian Potential-Collision Standoffs, and Symmetry Breaking

We’ve all experienced this phenomenon: you and someone else are walking towards each other in opposite directions, and you don’t want to collide. Do you shift to the left or to the right? And how should you shift to avoid a standoff? In a new paper on the arXiv, physicists Nickolas Morton and Shaun Hendy […]

The Acoustics of Breaking Chopsticks

What are the acoustics of breaking a bamboo chopstick? According to a new paper by physicist Tzay-Ming Hong and his colleagues at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, it’s kind of like the acoustics of breaking a bundle spaghetti: they both apparently resemble the Gutenberg–Richter scaling law, which relates earthquake magnitude to the frequency of earthquakes with at […]

Shepherd physics: Capturing a skittish lamb, using statistical physics

A trio of theoretical physicists have recently used ideas from statistical mechanics and probability theory to try to develop an optimal strategy for capturing a skittish lamb near a precipice. The situation that they model is an idealization of “the capture of a diffusing, but skittish lamb, with an approaching shepherd on the left and […]