Norwich scientists are hosting this year's annual Network Science conference, an international event that brings together the world's top experts on this exciting and growing subject.
Network science is a new way of looking at the world and of solving problems from the recovery of lost cell function in medicine to preventing the failure of networks such as the national grid or finding the best location for public facilities.
"There are similarities in the way that cells, people, transport systems or websites are connected", says Dr Jozsef Baranyi from the Institute of Food Research. "If all types of networks are similar in how they evolve and behave, we can start to understand how they work best and how they break down."
Findings reported last month from Professor Nicholas Christakis, one of the keynote speakers, Harvard Medical School, showed that quitting smoking is contagious. People may help many more than just themselves by quitting. Their decision can have a ripple effect prompting an entire social network to break the habit.
He has also studied the spread of obesity and the spread of happiness and found that the importance of social networks has again been underestimated. A person's chance of becoming obese increased by 57% if he or she had a friend who became obese.
"In the long term economics and business will derive huge benefits from network thinking and in the shorter term it will have a big impact on biology," says Dr Baranyi.
|Contact: Zoe Dunford|
Norwich BioScience Institutes