Math in the Media

Also see the Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Push me, pull me," by Bruce Schechter. New Scientist, 24 August 2002,pages 42-45.

This article describes how the Ising model, a standard tool used in physics torepresent how magnetization spreads through a material, has been applied tomathematically model how opinions spread in groups of people. Researchers usedthe model to simulate elections and then compared the simulations againstelection data; the simulations closely mirrored reality. This shows, thearticle says, that "social factors strongly influence the outcome of anelection"; what candidates say and do is less important than conversationsamong voters. Another result is that neighbors reach consensus more easily insmall informal groups than in large meetings.

--- Allyn Jackson