Scientific divulgation of Complex Systems Research on the Media

How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer (part 1)

A documentary from ABC Television presenting the research on Complex Networks, based on the idea that anyone on the planet can be connected in just a few steps of association.

This video is available on YouTube, where it is presented in 5 parts: part 1 / part 2 / part 3 / part 4 / part 5

Transcription of the text presenting the documentary How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer, from the ABC1 website:

"We've all heard of 'six degrees of separation', the idea that everyone in the world can be connected in just a few steps. But what if those steps don't just relate to people but also to viruses, neurons, proteins and even to fashion trends? What if this 'six degrees of separation' allowed us an insight into something at the core of Nature?
We used to think the way in which web pages, power grids and people tied together was more or less random. But recently two young physicists independently discovered that fundamental laws govern networks. It's a discovery that may prove as important as Newton's observations of gravity or Darwin's theory of evolution.
How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer brings us a new view of the world, as we unfold the science behind the popular trivia game 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon'. Based on the idea that anyone on the planet can be connected in just a few steps of association, 'six-degrees of separation' was supposedly an urban myth. Through this documentary we discover it's at the heart of a major scientific breakthrough.
The explosion in the new science of networks started with an Australian PhD student Duncan Watts while studying, of all things, crickets, and the mechanism that allows them to chirp in unison. He investigated networks as varied as the actors of Hollywood, the neural pathways of the brain and the US power grid and discovered that they are all 'small worlds' where every actor, neuron, cricket and transformer is only a few 'handshakes' away.
Meanwhile a Hungarian physicist, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi coincidentally mapped the World Wide Web and found an underlying law that shapes small-world structures. Whether natural or man-made, vast diverse networks share a common blueprint, a structure that describes their strengths and weaknesses. In the near future network science will fundamentally change how we control epidemics; power failures; fight wars; save endangered species; prevent crime and disease.

References: on ABC / on YouTube.  





Resources for Complex Systems Science

Scientific divulgation on the Media

CSS Digital Library

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