Steven Strogatz - How Nature Synchronizes

You have all seen swarms of birds and schools of fish like the one on the picture to the right. There are other fascinating examples, like heart muscle cells: even if their rhythm is artificially disrupted, they will eventually synchronize their beat again, even if they come from different specimens. Yes, ants are another great example. Traffic patterns, like the shock wave seen in this awesome video clip, can also show the emergence of patterns that arise out of but are different from the vehicles that make them up.

In this interesting presentation, mathematician Steven Strogatz argues that there seems to be an inherent drive toward synchronicity not only in the biological world but even in the world of inanimate objects, and that these patterns emerge without the need for any conscious thought or premeditation on the part of any of their constituents.

My hope is that the mathematical understanding of these phenomena will one day shed light on the question of consciousness, and how it emerges out of the interaction of swarms of neurons. Is that too much to ask?



Check out this documentary with Robert Krulwich on the science of emergence.
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