Mosca
Mosca
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December 9th, 2013 at 8:46:03 PM permalink
For the past century, an obscure mathematical principle called Zipf's law has predicted the size of mega-cities all over the world. And nobody knows why.

I dig this. This is the kind of thing that really blows my mind. Not only is our free will an illusion on a personal level, but even our behavior in groups is predictable mathematically.
NO KILL I
paisiello
paisiello
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December 9th, 2013 at 9:37:16 PM permalink
Didn't Isaac Asimov's Foundation predict this?
MathExtremist
MathExtremist
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December 9th, 2013 at 9:46:09 PM permalink
Quote: Mosca

For the past century, an obscure mathematical principle called Zipf's law has predicted the size of mega-cities all over the world. And nobody knows why.

I dig this. This is the kind of thing that really blows my mind. Not only is our free will an illusion on a personal level, but even our behavior in groups is predictable mathematically.


Two things to blow it further:

1) The power law structure of information content in language (a) has been shown to apply to non-human terrestrial species (e.g. dolphins) and (b) should apply to extra-terrestrial species as well;
http://www.peterrussell.com/Dolphin/DolphinLang.php
and
2) Read the "Foundation" series by Isaac Asimov. It deals with a perhaps not-entirely-fictional branch of mathematics called "psychohistory" that is all about the prediction of large numbers of people.

Edit: paisiello mentioned the Foundation reference while I was typing, but yes. Definitely worth a read.
"In my own case, when it seemed to me after a long illness that death was close at hand, I found no little solace in playing constantly at dice." -- Girolamo Cardano, 1563
beachbumbabs
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beachbumbabs
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December 9th, 2013 at 10:00:35 PM permalink
Quote: MathExtremist

Quote: Mosca

For the past century, an obscure mathematical principle called Zipf's law has predicted the size of mega-cities all over the world. And nobody knows why.

I dig this. This is the kind of thing that really blows my mind. Not only is our free will an illusion on a personal level, but even our behavior in groups is predictable mathematically.


Two things to blow it further:

1) The power law structure of information content in language (a) has been shown to apply to non-human terrestrial species (e.g. dolphins) and (b) should apply to extra-terrestrial species as well;
http://www.peterrussell.com/Dolphin/DolphinLang.php
and
2) Read the "Foundation" series by Isaac Asimov. It deals with a perhaps not-entirely-fictional branch of mathematics called "psychohistory" that is all about the prediction of large numbers of people.

Edit: paisiello mentioned the Foundation reference while I was typing, but yes. Definitely worth a read.



Let me also recommend Asimov, both the "Foundation" reference and the Robot novels and stories (several full length and maybe 50 short story/novellas. A really interesting writer and one of the best "Science Fact" guys ever.

Really interesting start to a thread, Mosca. It only takes about 3 steps back to get perspective on humans as a species and see our world like a giant formicary. Kind of like that amazing "you are HERE" shot of Earthrise from Apollo. Never gets old, looking at that.
If the House lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game.
EvenBob
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December 9th, 2013 at 10:04:48 PM permalink
Quote: MathExtremist


2) Read the "Foundation" series by Isaac Asimov. It deals with a perhaps not-entirely-fictional branch of mathematics called "psychohistory" that is all about the prediction of large numbers of people.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory_%28fictional%29
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal
Mosca
Mosca
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onenickelmiracle
December 10th, 2013 at 1:40:44 PM permalink
I read the Foundation trilogy repeatedly as a young adult and teenager, I read I, Robot for the first time when I was about 12. I last read Foundation sometime within the last 20 years. I have to say, it was better when I was younger.

From inside ourselves, everything human seems coincidental. We appear to ourselves as if we have free will and consequences. But since we ourselves are not just observers but also part of the fabric, why wouldn't in make sense for living things to have equations for their development as well? It is probably more absurd to think it coincidental.
NO KILL I
terapined
terapined
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December 10th, 2013 at 2:26:33 PM permalink
Quote: Mosca

I read the Foundation trilogy repeatedly as a young adult and teenager, I read I, Robot for the first time when I was about 12. I last read Foundation sometime within the last 20 years. I have to say, it was better when I was younger.

From inside ourselves, everything human seems coincidental. We appear to ourselves as if we have free will and consequences. But since we ourselves are not just observers but also part of the fabric, why wouldn't in make sense for living things to have equations for their development as well? It is probably more absurd to think it coincidental.



Yup, when I 1st saw the name of the thread, I thought to myself Foundation trilogy. I loved those books. Cant believe a movie hasn't been made of this series yet. Cmon Peter Jackson, you did the Lord of the rings trilogy, turned the Hobbit from 1 book to a trilogy. how about filming the Foundation trilogy next.
"Everybody's bragging and drinking that wine, I can tell the Queen of Diamonds by the way she shines, Come to Daddy on an inside straight, I got no chance of losing this time" -Grateful Dead- "Loser"
onenickelmiracle
onenickelmiracle
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April 23rd, 2017 at 11:51:34 PM permalink
It blows my mind since I've seen this. Me personally, I think we're all programs, that explains it but introduces more questions. Unless the facts are wrong, possibly from contamination by being exposed to computers and their tendencies. The words I use now, I plan them, but sometimes I might take the recommendations for my next words, because it's easier and I don't care that much to use a word I originally intended.

Vsauce zipf mystery video.
In the land of the blind, the man with one eye is the care taker. Hold my beer.
TigerWu
TigerWu
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onenickelmiracle
April 24th, 2017 at 8:19:13 AM permalink
Wait, it says this only works for the last 100 years... but humans have been living in cities for THOUSANDS of years. How do we know it's not just some anomalous blip in the overall trend?
QFIT
QFIT
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April 24th, 2017 at 9:01:17 AM permalink
Quote: paisiello

Didn't Isaac Asimov's Foundation predict this?



I hope not correctly.:)
"It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows." -Epictetus

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