The Mystery Of A Murmuration

Nov 5 2011 @ 12:50pm

Brandon Keim conveys the physics behind starling formations, which were featured a recent Mental Health Break:

Mathematical analysis of flock dynamics show how each starling’s movement is influenced by every other starling, and vice versa. It doesn’t matter how large a flock is, or if two birds are on opposite sides. It’s as if every individual is connected to the same network. That phenomenon is known as scale-free correlation, and transcends biology. The closest fit to equations describing starling flock patterns come from the literature of "criticality," of crystal formation and avalanches — systems poised on the brink, capable of near-instantaneous transformation.

Alexis is awestruck:

It's a beautiful phenomenon to behold. And neither biologists nor anyone else can yet explain how starlings seem to process information and act on it so quickly.