Is altruism simply self-interest in disguise? And can a mathematical equation hope to answer the question?
In 1968, an academic almost unknown in the UK walked into University College London and presented its staff with an equation so remarkable, that they offered him an honorary position and the keys to his own office.
His name was George Price, and his equation addressed a problem that has vexed scientists since Charles Darwin published On The Origin of Species more than a century earlier. If we are selfish creatures, engaged in a battle for survival, why do we display altruism? Why do we show kindness to others even at a cost to ourselves?
Price's equation explained how altruism could thrive, even amongst groups of selfish people.