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La Ola

2009/11/04

From page 25 of Connected:

A group of physicists who usually study waves on the surface of liquids were sufficiently intrigued that they decided to study a collection of filmed examples of La Ola in enormous soccer stadiums; they noticed that these waves usually rolled in a clockwise direction and consistently moved at a speed of “twenty seats per second”.*

Damn! I have participated numerous times in such waves and never, ever thought of that!


[*] – “Mexican waves in an excitable medium“, Nature 419, 131-132 (2002).

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4 Responses to “La Ola”


  1. Maybe i am losing something here, but what is the usefulness of such a survey?

  2. adamo Says:

    I am tempted to answer like a friend when asked a similar question, while defending his PhD thesis. His answer was:

    – George Boole while inventing his algebra never thought about computers.

    Meaning that prior to *digital* computers, Boolean algebra was of little use.

    Even when you find limited or no use for something today, nothing guarantees that this will remain of no use forever.

    However, such studies are helpful to people who study social networking function and structure and especially leaderless situations where the network as a whole behaves quite differently than any single participant.

  3. Angelos Says:

    Suppose I give you another survey, say the Internet Sites in Greece running ISS vs Apache. Is it useless ?

    Or is it an indication of the country’s Technical know how ?

  4. adamo Says:

    @Angelos:
    Actually it all depends on the data and how it was collected. For example, do we know the social ties between administrators of different installations? That way we could find out the influence impact that certain administrators may have upon others. Do we know whether they installed Microsoft stuff regardless of their personal preference and skill? It is possible that the “nobody ever got fired for installing Microsoft rule” is just another display of homophily.

    (Actually homophily is observed even in servers in our network: Our next server is most likely to run the operating system that most others run in the network.)


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