Browsing All Posts published on »January, 2013«

The Glue that Binds

January 31, 2013 by


There are certain things I miss about my first scientific love, ecology. Mostly it is being able to travel to neat places, like the Yellowstone or the Kruger National Park in South Africa, to commune with neat animals there. Bison in the Yellowstone National Park (photo by the author) But on the whole I don’t […]

Unproductive War II

January 26, 2013 by


In the previous post I argued that although it looks like the period between 1 and 1500 AD was one of stagnation, and even regress (European ‘Dark Ages’, etc.), under the surface there was a lot of technological and social progress. In China, again, agricultural techniques continued to evolve. And while the geographic extent of […]

Unproductive War?

January 23, 2013 by


My previous blog discussed the startling idea that war, despite all the blood, death, and suffering it has inflicted on countless humans over the ages, is actually good for something. As the historian and archaeologist Ian Morris argues, war “drove the creation of increasingly effective governments, which pushed down rates of violent death,” ultimately resulting […]

A Productive Way of War

January 17, 2013 by


A few years ago, as I was writing an article about what it would take to transform history into science, I wanted to get a sample of what influential historians think about this idea. So I went through ten years of issues of Perspectives on History, a monthly bulletin of the American Historical Association. Every […]

Is War Creative?

January 13, 2013 by


A year ago, together with Sergey Gavrilets and Laura Fortunato, we organized a conference at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis in Knoxville. The main theme was how we build and test theory of the evolution of social complexity. After the end of the conference we held a public debate on this question: […]

Those Wet, Grasping Fingers

January 9, 2013 by


This morning a colleague sent to the department, with a snide comment, an article that just came out in Biology Letters, Wet-induced finger wrinkles improve handling of wet objects. At first glance it looked like a joke or a hoax, but I opened the text anyway. On the second glance, after reading the first paragraph […]

Social Evolution Forum: 2012 in Review

January 5, 2013 by

8 sent me a nice annual report providing all kinds of statistics for the year 2012, so I am sharing these numbers here. It turns out that there were 101 new posts in 2012, of which 54 were my blogs, and the rest mainly posts in Special Features (Focus Articles and Commentaries) and a few […]


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