Care for another slice?

Serving suggestion

A banker, Daily Mail* reader and immigrant worker are sat around a table looking at a large chocolate cake. The banker leans forward, takes a knife and makes two cuts that creates a 20% segment. He then takes the other 80% and puts it on his plate. After a while he turns to the Daily Mail reader and between mouthfulls says “I’d be careful if I were you. He’s after your piece.”

Competition for fixed or finite resources can lead to conflict. The simplest form of competition is a zero-sum-game in which me having more means you having less. I have +1 you have -1 so the sum of the competition is 0. Zero-sum, non-zero-sum and all other sorts of games have been studied extensively. Lots of clever people doing lots of clever maths. There are many applications in economics, politics, evolutionary biology amongst others. There’s even been a film made about one: the Nash Equilibria. OK, the film (A Beautiful Mind) was about John Nash, but Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on game theory.

The outcome of a game can depend on the rules, who is playing it (and how well) and luck. There are some games for which the only sane strategy is to simply not play

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Medieval city science

From Friday 20th to Sunday 22th July, the Winchester Discovery Centre will be hosting the Winchester Science Festival. The program starts from 9am/10am and runs through past 8pm. The organisers have done a superb job in putting together a very diverse event with talks subjects ranging from mammoths, dark matter, magic to sperm warfare. And much inbetween. There is even space for me to talk about Global Challenges and what we (as a University, teachers and researchers) could and arguably should be doing to address them. OK, I will be talking at 9am on Sunday which isn’t the most attractive time to be up and about at the weekend. I can’t imagine it’s going to be a packed house.

But it can’t be as bad as the last ‘professional’ gig I played. We were a very last minute replacement for some other act that had pulled out at the Rock Garden in London. I think it closed a few years ago but during the 1970s and 80s it was an important venue in the punk and New Wave scene. By the time we played it in the mid 90s, it was some distance from this peak. In total 8 people turned up. 6 were our friends the other 2 being obviously lost Japanese tourists who politely left after the first song. Fortunately we were still paid. Unfortunately it was a cut of the door. I still can remember the manager counting out the £2:50 that was my share. And there were only two of us. I think it was at that point that I finally realised that this band really wasn’t going anywhere.