University of Aveiro PhD student is awarded the Stimulus for Research prize

December 02, 2005

The research to be developed by João Gama Oliveira with the award will include two areas: the writing habits in Letters by Einstein (1879 - 1955) and Darwin (1809 - 82) and the occurrence frequency of numbers in the World Wide Web.

Although living in different historic periods, Darwin and Einstein were prolific correspondents, sending and receiving hundreds of letters each year. Both answered many of the letters they received, most of the times within 10 days, but sometimes with a two-year delay. Despite these fluctuations, their correspondence showed some order over a long time interval even when compared to the same patters of modern electronics communication. During his life, Darwin sent 7.591 letters and received 6.530; Einstein sent more than 14.500 letters and received more then 16.200 (with a decrease of the volume correspondence during the Second World War).

Before communication means like e-mail or fax, the scientific community was dealing with an extended universe of letters, the main medium used to exchange new ideas and results. But were the communication patterns in any way different from the current world of instant access, or was it just the means used that changed while retaining the same global communication dynamics? According to the record of the complete correspondence sent or received by both scientists, João Gama Oliveira proposes to obtain an answer to the question, after recent studies showed the existence of a complex pattern in case of electronic communication, where both the scheduled answer time to consecutive e-mails sent by someone and the time taken to answer follow a long tale distributions in the shape of power law, contrasting with the exponential distribution predicted by current human behaviour models based on Poisson processes. The correspondence by Darwin and Einstein are dynamic processes and take place in the individual complex arenas of their social and professional relationships. João Gama Oliveira's study thus has relevance for complex networking theory. He intends nonetheless to resort to file theory to model the temporal dynamics of the correspondence.

Besides this part of the research, this PhD student wants to get involved in the study of the occurrence frequency of numbers in the World Wide Web. The frequency with which the numbers appear in human documents is determined by two sets of factors. The first one includes natural aspects, from which the most important is the multiple scale organization of the world we live in. The second contains human origin factors, like the technological level of society, language structure, adopted schedules and number systems, history, cultural and religious traditions, psychology, and many more areas. Using the available search mechanisms, João Gama Oliveira obtained the occurrence frequency of entire numerals in the World Wide Web, the complex network composed by directional connections between existing documents in a virtual space. Though this study, which has been accepted for publication, has left some unanswered questions that João Gama Oliveira is searching for answers in the meantime.

João Gama de Oliveira, 26, graduated in Physics from the University of Oporto in 2002 and held research grants from the Porto Physics Centre (2002), the University of Aveiro (2002) and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (2003). He was a visiting researcher at University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA) in 2004 and 2005. He is currently doing a PhD in Physics at the University of Aveiro and is an assistant lecturer of thermodynamics at the Department of Physics. He published an article in the October 27 edition of Nature about writing habits in Letters by Einstein and Darwin.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation instituted the ESTIMULO À INVESTIGAÇÃO Program with the goal of stimulating creativity and quality in research activity among young scientists. This program annually distinguishes research propositions of high quality in scientific areas of high potential and simultaneously supports its execution during the following year, in Portuguese Research Centres. The Gulbenkian Program ESTIMULO À INVESTIGAÇÃO grants financial support of €12.500 for the prize winners, divided into two parts: €2.500 for the researcher and €10.000 for the institution that supports the fees for the execution of the research during the ensuing year.

Universidade de Aveiro

Related Physics Articles from Brightsurf:

Helium, a little atom for big physics
Helium is the simplest multi-body atom. Its energy levels can be calculated with extremely high precision only relying on a few fundamental physical constants and the quantum electrodynamics (QED) theory.

Hyperbolic metamaterials exhibit 2T physics
According to Igor Smolyaninov of the University of Maryland, ''One of the more unusual applications of metamaterials was a theoretical proposal to construct a physical system that would exhibit two-time physics behavior on small scales.''

Challenges and opportunities for women in physics
Women in the United States hold fewer than 25% of bachelor's degrees, 20% of doctoral degrees and 19% of faculty positions in physics.

Indeterminist physics for an open world
Classical physics is characterized by the equations describing the world.

Leptons help in tracking new physics
Electrons with 'colleagues' -- other leptons - are one of many products of collisions observed in the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.

Has physics ever been deterministic?
Researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of Vienna and the University of Geneva, have proposed a new interpretation of classical physics without real numbers.

Twisted physics
A new study in the journal Nature shows that superconductivity in bilayer graphene can be turned on or off with a small voltage change, increasing its usefulness for electronic devices.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

2D topological physics from shaking a 1D wire
Published in Physical Review X, this new study propose a realistic scheme to observe a 'cold-atomic quantum Hall effect.'

Helping physics teachers who don't know physics
A shortage of high school physics teachers has led to teachers with little-to-no training taking over physics classrooms, reports show.

Read More: Physics News and Physics Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to