Video of the Week: Sean Gourley on the mathematics of war

By analyzing raw data on violent incidents in the Iraq war and others, Sean Gourley and his team claim to have found a surprisingly strong mathematical relationship linking the fatality and frequency of attacks.

Sean Gourley’s twin passions are physics (working on nanoscale blue-light lasers and self-assembled quantum nanowires) and politics (he once ran for a national elected office back home in New Zealand).

A Rhodes scholar, he’s spent the past five years working at Oxford on complex adaptive systems and collective intelligent systems — basically, using data to understand the nature of human conflict. As he puts it, “This research has taken me all over the world from the Pentagon, to the House of Lords, the United Nations and most recently to Iraq. I’m currently working as a political advisor to the new Iraqi government.” Originally from New Zealand, he now lives in San Francisco, where he works on the internet startup and competes in decathlons. He’s a 2009 TED Fellow. Transcript of talk is here.