Category Archives: OnTheMedia

Clever Apes: Rock-Paper-Scissors

A new episode of WBEZ Clever Apes covers the work of the Allesina lab on rock-paper-scissor, featuring Jason and Anna playing rock-paper-scissor-bull!

Anna and Jason play rock-paper-scissor-bull (c) Gabriel Spitzer, WBEZ
Anna and Jason play rock-paper-scissor-bull (c) Gabriel Spitzer, WBEZ

“Charles Darwin ushered in modern biology with his explanation of how different species evolve. But his work leaves us with a paradox: Why should dozens or even thousands of species coexist in a single habitat? The theory suggests they ought to duke it out until just a few winners dominate. And yet we have such magnificent biodiversity all over. More than 2,000 species of trees share a single acre of rainforest in the Amazon. So what gives?”

You can download the episode here

Revolutions in Science

Author and physicist Mark Buchanan comments on my preprint on modeling peer review in Nature Physics

A nice piece on a possible revolution in science coming from a radical change in the way basic practices of science are carried out. The article discusses in details the project outlined in this preprint.

“However, some more radical proposals are beginning to target the shortcomings of the publication process itself. For example, ecologist Stefano Allesina has explored the idea that journals might bid on the manuscripts they want to publish.”

Read the full text here (subscription required).

Googling food webs strikes again!

The NY Times Magazine “A Year in Ideas 2009” includes a story on Googling Food Webs

Every species — be it earthworm or great white shark — is entwined in a vast and complicated system of predator and prey called a food web. To determine which species in a food web are most important to the survival of the larger ecosystem, scientists design computer programs to model how the extinction of a given species would affect the other species in the system. This year, two scientists announced that they had found an unexpectedly useful tool for this purpose: the seminal Google search algorithm.
Stefano Allesina of the University of Chicago and Mercedes Pascual of the University of Michigan began with a simple hunch.