Lecture: The Power of the Network

Today we were talking about networks and how they work.

Networks are everywhere, from inside our bodies to the structure of roads.

“Life and mind have a common abstract pattern or set of basic organizational properties. The functional properties characteristic of mind are an enriched version of the functional properties that are fundamental to life in general. Mind is literally life-like.”
Godfrey-Smith, P. (1996). Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

“Mind is literally life-like. The Universe and Life are literally mind-like. “
Peter Winiwarter (2008). Network Nature.www.bordalierinstitute.com

it’s surprising that networks weren’t explored in terms of theory until the 1940′s. Ludwig von Bertalanffy wrote the General Sysytems theory was a way of mapping networks in all aspects of society. He wrote about 5 notions:


Ludwigs theories are the bases for many well known theories today, including the butterfly effect.

There are two types of networks, Random and Scale-Free

You can see the difference between the two, Random network doesn’t seem as stable at Scale-free. The grey dots are called hubs and this formation is the same as the internet network system.

One thing that really caught my eye about this lecture is the huge role that slime mould plays in science. Slime mould can be found in your back garden, or can be grown. If you place a point of interest near the slime it can find the quickest route to it, faster then any computer or human.

Here are some videos that show slime mould in action.

The second video shows an experiment that represents tokyo’s underground, slime mould is a way humans can find effective network for them.

Perhaps the most complex and beautiful network is the human brain, this TED video shows the director of the Blue Brain Project, Henry Markram discussing how the project intends to create a brain.

As I said before the internet is a huge network, the first man made network that works on a global scale. The networking aspect of the internet resembles the same as a human brain, coincidence? or can you think of the internet of a huge man made brain that man constantly utilises?

Just a thought for food…


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