Traffic regulation: self-organisation vs control

Navigating the traffic here in SA can be quite a complex affair (as I'm sure is true in most other countries).  Traffic authorities make extensive use of traffic lights and other control mechanisms to regulate traffic, especially in urban areas.  I came across this interesing video the other day, about how allowing for self-regulation on busy roads often leads to less congestion and paradoxically, less road accidents.  I'm not sure if this will work in South Africa, but it certainly [...]

The power of African Fractals

We often laugh at the perceptions people have of Africa and her people, like the one that we still have wild animals roaming the streets of Johannesburg.  Hopefully the thousands of visitors that came to South Africa for the 2010 Soccer World Cup will dispell that myth once and for all.  Another persistant (and more worrying) perception seems to be that African culture and intelligence is inferior to those of Western nations.  Most people still think that the various Europian [...]

Of spiders and starfish

I recently heard someone use this metaphor for the first time, and found it really interesting. In essense, spiders and starfish may look alike, both being multi-legged creatures, but upon investigation prove to be very different.  Cut a leg off a spider, and you get a slightly disabled seven-legged (less effective) creature; cut off its head and you have a dead spider. In contrast, if you cut off the arm of a starfish, it will grow a new one. Even [...]