New Horizons in Science

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Crashing markets, power blackouts and sudden death: The physics of a networked world

Topic: Network Science
yellow spheres and green lines showing a complex network
Sunday, November 3, 2013 -
9:30am to 10:30am
Century Ballroom B

Massive power outages, global financial crashes and sudden death in the elderly are all startling and befuddling events. To Gene Stanley, they're unavoidable shocks in an interconnected world, where interdependencies between networks create dangerous vulnerabilities. Stanley and his colleagues have uncovered new laws that show why everyday fluctuations in one network can trigger abrupt failures across coupled networks. They've found that the rapid switching typical of financial networks produces features analogous to phase transitions in physics. Furthermore, market moves that economists call "rare events" turn out to have the same statistical properties as everyday fluctuations. Recently, the group has applied these principles to Google query data and found early warning signs of market changes.


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