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Every day is an adventure at ECHO! ECHO Encounters, our brand of daily hands-on activities, changes regularly with new exhibit installations, new, dynamic volunteers willing to share their expertise, and outside partners adding their talents and knowledge to program events.

Café Scientifique: Measuring Happiness

Thursday, November 10, 2011
From 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Topic 22: Measuring Happiness: Social Media as a Laboratory.

Join us in conversation with Chris Danforth, Assistant Professor, Department Mathematics & Statistics and the Complex Systems Center, UVM. Suggested donation $5. Event for 21+ with cash bar and themed drink; FREE hors d’oeuvres sponsored by VT Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Society.

About the Speaker:

Chris Danforth received a B.S. in math and physics from Bates College in 2001, and a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computation from the University of Maryland in 2006. He is currently on the faculty of the University of Vermont where he combines mathematical modeling and big data to study a variety of complex biological, natural, and physical systems. Among other projects, he has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using Twitter. His research has been covered by the New York Times, Science Magazine, and the BBC among others. Descriptions of his projects are available at his website:

Questions to ponder:

  • Is the English language biased to encourage pro-social behavior?
  • How can we use social media like Facebook and Twitter to measure happiness?
  • How does population level happiness vary as a function of age, location, sex, income, and weather?
  • Can we use social networks to understand the spread of information, ideas, and emotions?
  • Can evolutionary computer algorithms mimic biology and learn from social media to uncover hidden laws of human behavior?
  • Should we able to declare 'digital bankruptcy' and start our internet lives from scratch by erasing all publicly available electronic information? At 18?

Full episode:

Watch Cafe Scientifique- Measuring Happiness on PBS. See more from VERMONT PUBLIC TELEVISION SPECIALS.

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