A new normal: Study explains universal pattern in fossil record

Instead of the typical bell-shaped curve, the fossil record shows a fat-tailed distribution, with extreme, outlier, events occurring with higher-than-expected probability. Using the same mathematical tools that describe stock market crashes, SFI researchers explain the evolutionary dynamics behind this universal pattern in the fossil record and uncover "a new normal."

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In memoriam: Murray Gell-Mann

Murray Gell-Mann, a Nobel laureate who revealed symmetry and order in the world of subatomic particles and leveled his genius at complex mysteries of life and mind, died peacefully May 24, 2019. He was 89 years old.

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Group decisions: When more information isn't necessarily better

Modular — or cliquey — group structure isolates the flow of communication between individuals, which might seem counterproductive to survival. But for some animal groups, more information isn't necessarily better, according to new SFI research published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

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At last, acknowledging royal women's political power

Across the globe in a variety of societies, royal women found ways to advance the issues they cared about and advocate for the people important to them as detailed in a recent paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Research.

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Are you with me? New model explains origins of empathy

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute and the Santa Fe Institute have developed a new model to explain the evolutionary origins of empathy and other related phenomena, such as emotional contagion and contagious yawning. The model suggests that the origin of a broad range of empathetic responses lies in cognitive simulation.

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More than the sum: Working group scopes higher-order interactions

When only two things interact, the outcome is usually easily to predict. But what happens when you add a third — or fourth, or fifth, or more — component to the mix? The effects of such higher-order interactions can be difficult to forecast, and are the subject of a working group that meets this week at SFI.

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