You're reading: Phil. Trans. Aperiodic.

Power lines follow power laws, says somebody

A headline appears on my screen: “Ancient and Modern People Followed Same Mathematical Rule To Build Cities”, on Slashdot.

Ooh, I get to break out my “holy power law, Batman” image again! Yippee!

Ctrl+F “power law” – no hits. That’s odd.

Follow the link to the story “Ancient cities grew pretty much like modern ones, say scientists” in the Christian Science Monitor.

Ctrl+F “power law” – no hits. Hm! What could this mysterious mathematical rule be?

Follow the link to the research group’s website. Oh look, it’s the same Geoffrey B. West who said something fishy about power laws last time!

Ctrl+F “power law”…

“Many diverse properties of cities from patent production and personal income to electrical cable length are shown to be power law functions of population size with scaling exponents that fall into distinct universality classes.”

Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities, Luís M. A. Bettencourt, José Lobo, Dirk Helbing, Christian Kühnert, and Geoffrey B. West

Batman and Robin power law meme

(Actually, I can well believe that some of the things they looked at do follow power laws. I certainly don’t think that they all do.)

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