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Math moguls: Can Japanese physicists predict a Hollywood hit?

movie theater

Photo by Heritage Vancouver via Flickr Creative Commons

The science of success gets sexy with symbols in a study published by the New Journal of Physics that claims to have the answer to Hollywood's biggest question. 

Japanese scientists say they've created a formula to predict if a film will be a box office "hit," based on how it's marketed, advertising budget data, online word-of-mouth, and other "human dynamics" criteria.

The study focused on the motion picture industry in Japan, but the team concluded the model was applicable to any consumer market:

We present the mathematical model of the hit phenomenon as an equation of consumer action where consumer–consumer communication is taken into account. In the communication effect, we include both direct communication and indirect communication.
We found the daily number of blog posts to be very similar to the revenue of the corresponding movie. The daily number of blog posts can be used as quasi-revenue. The results calculated with the model can predict the revenue of the corresponding movie very well.


Pioneering Caltech DNA researcher Roy Britten dies at 92

roy britten caltech dna pioneer

Photo of Roy Britten via

Roy John Britten, a pioneering Caltech DNA researcher and Princeton Ph.D nuclear physicist who switched fields to biophysics after working on the Manhattan Project, has died at age 92, Caltech officials announced Thursday.

A Caltech Distinguished Carnegie Senior Research Associate, Emeritus, and one-time adjunct professor at UC Irvine, Roy Britten continued to publish papers into his 90s, remaining active in the scientific community until his death on Jan. 21.

Beginning his academic career as a physicist, the "committed pacifist" who worked on the Manhattan Project in World War II was "always pleased to say that his particular project was a complete failure," his son said in a statement, notes the Pasadena Sun.

Interested in the fundamental characteristics of animal DNA, the Washington D.C. native arrived at Caltech's Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory in Corona del Mar in 1971 to study genomes.