Astrophysicists Prove That Cities On Earth Grow in the Same Way As Galaxies in Space

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Astrophysicists Prove That Cities On Earth Grow in the Same Way As Galaxies in Space Empty Astrophysicists Prove That Cities On Earth Grow in the Same Way As Galaxies in Space

Post by Guest on Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:25 am

The way galaxies evolve from variations in matter density in the early universe is mathematically equivalent to the way cities grow from changes in population density on Earth, say cosmologists.

Urban sociologists have long known that a set of remarkable laws govern the large-scale interaction between individuals such as the probability that one person will befriend another and the size of the cities they live in.

The latter is an example of the Zipf’s law. If cities are listed according to size, then the rank of a city is inversely proportional to the number of people who live in it. For example, if the biggest city in the US has a population of 8 million people, the second-biggest city will have a population of 8 million divided by 2, the third biggest will have a population of 8 million divided by 3 and so on.

This simple relationship is known as a scaling law and turns out to fit the observed distribution of city sizes extremely well.

Another interesting example is the probability that one person will be friends with another. This turns out to be inversely proportional to the number of people who live closer to the first person than the second.

What’s curious about these laws is that although they are widely accepted, nobody knows why they are true. There is no deeper theoretical model from which these laws emerge. Instead, they come simply from the measured properties of cities and friendships.

Today, all that changes thanks to the work of Henry Lin and Abraham Loeb at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge. These guys have discovered a single unifying principle that explains the origin of these laws.


http://www.technologyreview.com/view/534251/astrophysicists-prove-that-cities-on-earth-grow-in-the-same-way-as-galaxies-in-space/

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