Statistical physics modeling of social dynamics

In recent years it has become widely recognized that many large-scale phenomena observed in social systems are the “macroscopic” complex effect of the “microscopic” simple behavior of a large number of interacting agents. This has led social scientists to the introduction of elementary models of social behavior (cellular automata, agent-based models). Many of these models are somehow relatives of models that have been introduced in modern traditional statistical physics, and it is natural to approach them using the same concepts and tools that have been successfully applied in physics.… Read the rest

Regularities and universality in large-scale social phenomena

In social phenomena every individual interacts with a limited number of peers, usually negligible as compared with the total number of people in the system. In spite of that, human societies are characterized by stunning global regularities. There are transitions from disorder to order, like the spontaneous emergence of a common language/culture or the creation of consensus about a specific topic.… Read the rest

Fractal analysis of planetary topographies

There exists an overwhelming diversity of landscapes on Earth. A cornerstone of modern geomorphology came with the realization that all the different features of the terrestrial surface result from the accumulated effect of current geological agents [Lyell, 1830]. This principle established for the first time a qualitative relationship between pattern and process in geology.
More than one century later, fractal geometry gave a theoretical framework able to provide quantitative measures for the patterns of landscapes, which were identified in a first approximation as self-similar, and triggered the research on mechanistic and theoretical models to identify the underlying constructive rules responsible for their appearance.… Read the rest

Polarons in strongly correlated systems

In system with strong electron-phonon interaction, the carriers loose mobility, ultimately acquiring polaronic character. A polaron is a state in which the phonon and electron degrees of freedom are strongly entangled, and the presence of an electron is associated to a finite lattice distortion, which in turn bind

Phonon distribution function P(n) and magnetic polaron size Lp as function of the exchange coupling J, signalizing the formation of the spin/lattice polaron

s the electron leading to the so-called self-trapping effect.… Read the rest

GZIP: Galaxy morphology classification by zip algorithm

Even before the identification of galaxies as stellar systems, astronomers have classified them based on their visual appearance. Galaxies in the local universe can organized in a sequence of morphologies (e.g. the Hubble sequence) which must be the result of the specific processes that originated them.
The relative roles over cosmic time of processes such as the merging of dark matter haloes, dissipation, starburst, feedback, active galactic nuclei (AGN) activity, etc.,… Read the rest

Tidal tail characterization


A globular cluster (GC) is a spherical collection of stars that orbits a galactic core as a satellite.
Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity, which gives them their spherical shapes and relatively high stellar densities toward their centers. The name of this category of star cluster is derived from the Latin globulus—a small sphere. Globular clusters are fairly common; there are about 158 currently known globular clusters in the Milky Way, with perhaps 10–20 more undiscovered.… Read the rest

Spatially correlated random walks and turbulence

The wide applicability of the random walks (RW) to natural phenomena relies just on the possibility to introduce appropriate generalizations on the probabilistic nature of displacements. A straightforward generalization is realized by assuming correlations in displacements to obtain the so called correlated random walks (CRW).

This possibility extends also to a set of particles distributed in space leading to the definition of spatially correlated random walks.… Read the rest

Granular Gases to explore Non-Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics

How do properties of molecular trajectories reflect on large scale transport and relaxation properties? Is it possible to directly and experimentally verify the Boltzmann’s program, connecting the microscopic level to the macroscopic description? Can we zoom into an out-of-equilibrium fluid and reveal, in the laboratory, its underlying microscopic reversibility? These are some of the questions addressed by the GRANULARCHAOS project, funded by an IDEAS grant (originally selected by ERC and then funded by italian FIRB) for five years.… Read the rest

Dynamics of self-gravitating systems

A System with long-range interactions is characterized by an inter-particle potential which decays at large distances with a power law exponent which is smaller than the dimension of the embedding space. Classical examples include for instance: self-gravitating systems, unscreened Coulomb systems, ion beams, wave-particle systems of relevance to plasma physics and others.

The behaviour of the above mentioned systems is interesting both from the point of view of stable (or metastable) states, because equilibrium statistical mechanics shows new types of phase transitions and cases of ensemble inequivalence, and from the dynamical point of view, because they display peculiar fast relaxation followed by the formation of quasi-stationary states that are related to the underlying Vlasov-like equation.… Read the rest

Matter density fields in the early universe

The most prominent feature of the initial conditions of the matter spatial distribution in the early universe, in standard theoretical models, derived from inflationary mechanisms, is that matter density field presents on large scale super-homogeneous features. This means the following. If one considers the paradigm of uniform distributions, the Poisson process where particles are placed completely randomly in space, the mass fluctuations in a sphere of radius R growths as the volume of the sphere.… Read the rest

Total gravitational force and the classification of long range interactions

In equilibrium statistical mechanics the distinction between short and long range interactions is given by the integrability or not of the pair potential. However for what concerns only the clustering dynamics of a particle distribution under the effect of an attractive pair interaction, it seems by recent works that the distinction is given by the integrability of the pair force instead of the potential.… Read the rest

Graphene and carbon-based new materials

The investigation of the electronic properties of graphene (single hexagonal layer of carbon atoms) has attracted a renewed interest after the development of recent techniques which permit to produce and manage single-layer (and also multilayer) samples of this materials. Nowadays truly atomic single-layer isolated samples are available as well as epitaxially grown graphene on substrates.

Fig. 1: electronic structure of graphene and Dirac-like dispersionA large interest, for its potential technological applications, concerns the investigation of optical and transport properties of both single-layer and multi-layered graphene, which are dominated by its so-called relativistic Dirac-like electronic structure (see Figure on the right).

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Role of microscopic chaos to macroscopic transport

The discovery that simple deterministic nonlinear systems could display dynamical evolution characterized by a randomness similar to stochastic processes changed very much researchers’ attitude toward determinism and predictability of natural phenomena. Determinstic chaos has been successfully invoked to interpret several irregular behaviors, however its role to the fundaments of statistical physics still remains debated in modern statistical mechanics. In other terms, one is tempted to think that a macroscopic system with chaotic microscopic interactions is more robust with respect to statistical mechanical principles thant the same system with non-chaotic interactions.… Read the rest

Disorder driven non-equilibrium phase transition: the Random field Ising model

In hard magnetic materials, the domain walls movement or even creation is suppressed, and other mechanisms, like domains nucleation and coherent spin rotation enter in the process of magnetization reversal. For these kind of materials a description in terms of spin models is more appropriate. We focused on the non-equilibrium properties of the random field Ising model (RFIM), to describe the competition between quenched disorder and exchange interactions and their effect on the hysteretic behavior.… Read the rest

Systems with multiplicative noise

Problems susceptible to be mathematically represented by stochastic Langevin equations including a multiplicative noise abound not only in physics, but also in biology, ecology, economy, or social sciences. In a broad sense a Langevin equation is said to be multiplicative if the noise amplitude depends on the state variables themselves. In this sense, problems exhibiting absorbing states, i.e. fluctuation-less states in which the system can be trapped, are described by equations whose noise amplitude is proportional to the square-root of the (space and time dependent) activity density, vanishing at the absorbing state.… Read the rest

Competing orders in Iron based superconductors

In January 2008 a new family of superconductors has been discovered with FeAs layers. Iron is a magnetic ion and in traditional superconductors small amounts of magnetic impurities kill superconductivity so an iron based superconductor is at first sight surprising.

Tc has grow rapidly beyond 50K opening a new gate to high-Tc superconductivity. In addition the phase diagram has some similarities with the cuprates which suggest that understanding the superconductors from this new iron age can help to solve the mistery of the supercundoctors from the copper age.… Read the rest

COBBS – Publications

COBBS papers in collective behaviour:

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Protein molecules

Biopolymers such as nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and proteins have been charged by natural evolution with the task of storing, transmitting and transforming genetic information of living matter.
In particular proteins are the macromolecules which perform most of the biochemical and biomechanical activities of organisms. Proteins, for instance, provide the building blocks of cells and tissues, they are involved in control and regulation of cellular cycles, in enzymatic catalysis, proteins are at the basis of muscle contractions and constitute part of the immunitary defence, etc… The list of biological functions which proteins are involved in is extremely long and rapidly increasing with the research advances.
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Metastable states and supersymmetry

Both the static and the dynamical behaviour occurring in mean field spin glass models models can be interpreted as consequences of the complex (free) energy landscape that spin glasses have, with many minima, valleys and saddles. Traditionally, much attention has been devoted in the past to the analysis of absolute minima, i.e. equilibrium states. More recently, we have understood that also metastable states, i.e.… Read the rest

Field theory for finite dimensional spin glasses

Many features predicted by mean field spin glass models, such as the behaviour of susceptibilities and correlation functions or the occurrence of aging and off-equilibrium dynamics, are qualitatively observed in experiments, suggesting that the mean field scenario may hold for finite dimensional systems also. To investigate this hypothesis a field theory for the fluctuations around the mean field solution has been developed.… Read the rest

Frustrated Phase Separation

A large variety of systems with competing short and long range interactions self-organizes in domain patterns as reviewed by Seul and Andelman. Examples range from magnetic systems (left figure A) to organic systems (left figure B).

Inhomogeneous states display a simple set of predominant morphologies like circular droplets and stripes in two-dimensional (2D) systems, and layers, cylindrical rods and spherical droplets in three-dimensional (3D) systems.… Read the rest