Friday, October 17, 2014
"A New Universal Law"
Natalie Wolchover never fails to enthrall. Her latest piece at Quanta is on a "curiously pervasive statistical law" that connects math, physics and biology. It's known as the Tracy-Widom distribution, after the founders who discovered that "Systems of many interacting components — be they species, integers or subatomic particles — kept producing the same statistical curve." In other words, similar to the bell curve, the Tracy-Widom distribution seems to operate universally, describing many complexly-interacting systems. Unlike the bell curve though, the tails are asymmetric in some manner relating to the universal nature of phase transitions, and phase transitions, the article notes, "are for statistical physicists 'almost like a religion.'" The article also notes that where physicists are often satisfied with "a preponderance of evidence," mathematicians want more rigorous "proof" of a relationship. Read more here: