- Articles by Rachel Thomas
On a rainy night last month, in an ancient hall down a hidden alleyway in the centre of London, Bernard Silverman, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Home Office, revealed a surprising secret... ancient mathematics is at the heart of a very modern game of hide and seek.
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.
Sometimes it doesn't feel like the world is a very nice place. The news is filled with war, political conflict, crime – it seems we just can't get along. So it is very cheering indeed to read a book dedicated entirely to convincing you that we are actually very helpful to one another and that the whole world as we know it is only possible thanks to cooperation. And surprisingly the authors don't use psychology or sociology to make their argument – they use maths.
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?
In the corner of the garden between the Centre of Mathematical Sciences and the Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge, sits a reminder of our ongoing quest to understand gravity: an apple tree that was taken as a cutting from the tree at Newton's birthplace, the tree that is said to have inspired his theory of gravity. Newton's theory was extended to the cosmological scales by Einstein's theory of general relativity – but can supergravity explain how gravity works in the quantum world?