Friday, February 22, 2013 - 1-2 PM ET
Reality in Myth Glimpsed in Networks
Guests: Padraig MacCarron and June Holley
Reality in Myth Glimpsed in Networks (pdf)
The structure of a network is more than an intriguing graphic. It suggests something about what’s happening within those complex relationships, and some striking differences distinguish real world networks and those found in fiction. Padraig MacCarron is one of the scientists who are discovering network analysis can provide new tools to examine truth and fiction, and to direct a glimmer of light on some secrets from the deep past.
Padraig MacCarron has a degree in physics and a master’s degree in general relativity from University College Cork in Ireland. He taught math and science for two years, and was eager to do research. He was fascinated when he learned Ralph Kenna, a reader in mathematical physics at Coventry University in the United Kingdom, was looking for a doctoral candidate with physics background who shared his interest mythology. MacCarron applied and was accepted. He and Kenna analyzed three famous mythical tales to discover whether the social networks in the narratives reflected a degree of historical reality. They looked at "The Iliad,” and "Beowulf,” both of which are believed to have some historical basis. They also examined the Irish epic "Tain Bo Cuailnge,” often translated as The Cattle Raid of Cooley, which scholars have considered purely fictional. The network configurations they found suggest that story may be more real than anyone knew. Read their paper, Universal Properties of Mythological Networks, in a Letters Journal Exploring the Frontiers of Physics, and their New York Times article "If Achilles Used Facebook…”
June Holley has been weaving economic and community networks for almost 20 years. With others in Appalachian Ohio, she encouraged entrepreneurs and economic innovators and local organizations to work together creating small businesses. After twenty years as executive director of the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (www.acenetworks.org), she stepped down to help communities around the globe form Smart Networks by training and supporting Network Weavers. She helps clients use Smart Network Analyzer, a social network mapping software, to understand and enhance their networks. Her recent projects have involved communities, regions, statewide collaborations, healthcare and hospital systems, national learning and innovation networks, and large corporations. Read June’s Network Weaving blog.