The stoplight at Jannowitzbrücke gave pause to the pedaling and the imaginary cell growth. A swarm of teenagers in red caps crossed the street, briefly enveloping her. A trio of girls wearing their caps backward—oh, pitiful resistance!—followed closely behind one another. It was easy to spot the popular girl at the front of the pack right away, simply from the geometry of the flock in motion. What was it about the girl, Anja wondered, the homely girl preoccupied with her phone, that made her the focal point, the yolk at the center of attention? What was the factor upon which the self-replicating algorithm turned, that remarkably consistent geometry of popularity? How had Anja still not figured out the answer, the hidden parametric logic to social arrangements, even after all these years, even as an adult scientist?
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