Study: Dunbar’s number is wrong. You can have more than 150 friends

Dunbar's number is a popular estimate for the maximum size of social groups. But new research suggests that it's a fictitious number based on flimsy data and bad theory.

  • A team of researchers recalculated Dunbar's number using his original methods and better data.
  • Their estimates were as high as 520 and were stretched over a wide enough range as to be nearly useless.
  • The authors suggest that the method used to calculate the number of friends a person can have is also theoretically unsound.
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Math explains polarization, and it's not just about politics

People often divide the world into "us" and "them" then forget about everybody else.

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  • A new study shows that our polarized "us" vs. "them" view of the world can be modeled mathematically.
  • Those who don't fit easily into either group tend to be disliked.
  • The model is not limited to politics and could be used to explain many aspects of society.
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Were there "early warning signs" of COVID-19 on Twitter?

Could we have predicted COVID-19 through social media trends?

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  • The first human cases of COVID-19 (subsequently named SARS-Cov-2) were first reported by officials in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019. The first cases of the virus in Europe were discovered at the end of January 2020.
  • Although there were really no preventative measures that could have completely stopped the pandemic, a new study takes a retrospective look at the months preceding the rapid spread of this virus.
  • Researchers suggest that, in a successive phase of the pandemic (or any pandemic), monitoring social media could help public health authorities mitigate the risks of a contagion resurgence.

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In 2020, more men and women are likely to consider sex with a robot

Would you ever have sex with a robot?

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  • In 2016, "Harmony", the world's first AI sex robot was designed by a tech firm called Realbotix.
  • According to 2020 survey data, more than one in five Americans (22 percent) say they would consider having sex with a robot. This is an increase from a survey conducted in 2017.
  • Robots (and robotic tech) already play a vital role in speeding up manufacturing, packaging, and processing across various industries.
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Can a quantum strategy help bring down the house?

Study finds quantum entanglement could, in principle, give a slight advantage in the game of blackjack.

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash
In some versions of the game blackjack, one way to win against the house is for players at the table to work as a team to keep track of and covertly communicate amongst each other the cards they have been dealt.
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