Neil F. Johnson, University of Miami
New Threats Reveal New Physics
Argonne Physics Division Colloquium - 25 May 2017
11:00 AM, Building 203 Auditorium

In this talk, I will try to convince you that buried in arguably the most urgent challenge facing society, i.e. global terrorism, lies a wealth of interesting physics related to many-body out-of-equilibrium systems, complex dynamical networks, critical phenomena, kinetic theory, and even Green's Functions and Feynman diagrams [1-10]. Moreover there now exist detailed spatiotemporal datasets on global violent events which back up these claims. During the talk, I will try to emphasize the point that this is not just about providing something new for Physics, but rather that Physics is uniquely positioned to offer key insights into this important ‘many-person problem’ in a way that the traditional disciplines associated with analyzing terrorism can never do.

Having discussed current threats involving humans in the loop, I will then shift to the subsecond regime, where a cyber-war is already underway [11,12] that brings in the finite nature of the speed of light, the recent rise of an autonomous all-machine ecology -- and bizarre behaviors in the current prices of land near Argonne National Lab.

[1] N. F. Johnson et al., “New online ecology of adversarial aggregates: ISIS and beyond” Science 352, 1459 (2016)
[2] P. Manrique et al., “Women’s connectivity in extreme networks” Science Advances 2, e1501742 (2016)
[3] J. C. Bohorquez et al., “Common ecology quantifies human insurgency,” Nature 462, 911 (2009)
[4] N. F. Johnson et al., “Pattern in Escalations in Insurgent and Terrorist Activity,” Science 333, 81 (2011)
[5] Z. Zhao et al. “Anomalously slow attrition times for asymmetric populations with internal group dynamics”, Physical Review Letters 103, 148701 (2009)
[6] J. P. Onnela et al., “Sampling bias due to structural heterogeneity and limited internal diffusion,” Europhysics Letters 85, 28001 (2009)
[7] N. F. Johnson et al., “Bias in Epidemiological Studies of Conflict Mortality,” Journal of Peace Research 45, 653 (2008)
[8] Z. Zhao et al., “Effect of social group dynamics on contagion,” Physical Review E 81, 056107 (2010)
[9] N. F. Johnson et al., “Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic,” Physical Review E 79, 066117 (2009)
[10] N. F. Johnson et al., “Simple mathematical law benchmarks human confrontations,” Scientific Reports 3, 3463 (2013)
[11] N.F. Johnson et al., “Abrupt rise of new machine ecology beyond human response time” Scientific Reports 3, 2627 (2013)
[12] Neil F. Johnson, “To slow or not? Challenges in subsecond networks”, Science 355, 801 (2017)

Argonne Physics Division Colloquium Schedule