Monday, 20 August 2007

Marvel (at the) Universe

That physicists are a curious crowd I knew since my own science days. But that government officials are willing to pay them for the fun they have is sometimes, astonishing.

Consider the recent paper by P. M. Gleiser, How to become a superhero.
It is devoted to analysis of
collaboration network based on theMarvel Universe comic books. First, we consider the system as a binary network, where two characters are connected if they appear in the same publication. The analysis of degree correlations reveals that, in contrast to most real social networks, the Marvel Universe presents a disassortative mixing on the degree. Then, we use a weight measure to study the system as a weighted network. This allows us to find and characterize well defined communities. Through the analysis of the community structure and the clustering as a function of the degree we show that the network presents a hierarchical structure. Finally, we comment on possible mechanisms responsible for the particular motifs observed.

Hmm. Looking at the results we find all the typical traits of complex networks: power law distributions, hubs, giant components. Funny. Even funnier is the acknowledgements part of the paper:
This work has been supported by grants from CONICET PIP05-5114 (Argentina), ANPCyT PICT03-13893 (Argentina) and ICTP NET-61 (Italy).

It makes me wish to come back to physics. At least in Argentina or Italy...

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