Plus Advent Calendar Door #4: Does it pay to be nice?

Maths is now an integral part in the study of evolution, describing how mutation and natural selection affect a reproducing population. And now maths has shown that it if you want to get ahead in the evolutionary race, it really does pay to be nice. We were lucky enough to visit the other Cambridge earlier this year to interview Professor Martin Nowak about the mathematics of altruism.

Does it pay to be nice? – the maths of altruism part i — Does it pay to be nice? Yes, it does. And we're not just talking about that warm fuzzy feeling inside, it pays in evolutionary terms of genetic success too. We talk to Martin Nowak about how the mathematics of evolution prove that being nice is unavoidable.

Does it pay to be nice? – the maths of altruism part ii — It does pay to be nice if you repeatedly deal with the same person. Martin Nowak explains why cooperation also wins in matters of reputation, neighbourliness and family. But can evolutionary game theory save the world?

Does it pay to be clever? — Why are we so clever? In evolutionary terms this isn't obvious: evolution tends to favour cheap solutions and the human brain is expensive. It consumes about 20% of our body's energy budget yet it only makes up 2% of our body mass. So why did it make evolutionary sense for us humans to develop powerful brains? Game theory provides a possible answer.

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