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MLK

Magic sunset ballet: Scale-free emergence at the edge of criticality

Magic sunset ballet: Scale-free emergence at the edge of criticality

02:33
14.2 mi
5.6 mph
625 ft
625 ft

Tour Overview

0.33 mi
2.64 mi
4.07 mi
7.05 mi
8.96 mi
11.6 mi
14.1 mi
14.2 mi

Tour Profile

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Speed Profile

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MLK went for a bike ride.

December 17, 2020

Comments

  • MLK

    Another sunny December day - and like a moth to the flame, I was drawn back to the stillness of the Otmoor nature reserve; back to the magic of the murmurations of wings from thousands of starlings performing a stunning sunset ballet.These aerial acrobatics are endlessly fascinating. Our natural instinct is to search for the underlying order in disorder. Over 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci was one of the first to try to capture the crowded dynamics of the whirling vortices in fluids. He experimented with infusing the water with panic grass (Panicum spp.) so he could track the vortices in action. He even invented a word "turbolenza" in venecular Italian to describe what he saw by borrowing the Latin word "turba" for crowd. Since then, scientists have slowly made progress through investing considerable time and effort to refine the science of complex systems. In the case of swarming starlings, the results from carefully filming and mapping each starling in a flock show that murmurations are a scale-free phenomenon, poised at the edge of criticality. This means that the starling flock is both different from and more than the sum of its parts. It also means that information ripples very fast through the flock allowing it to act as a superorganism, scaring away potential predators before the starlings can return safely to their nightly shelter. We cycled home in the fading light, full of wonder; our brains buzzing with ideas arising from the underlying turbulent dynamics, not dissimilar to a starling murmuration effortlessly creating beautiful complex patterns.

    • December 18, 2020

  • Mareldion

    Great pictures! Must have been magic.

    • December 19, 2020

  • Jolanta

    Great photos 👍

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    • January 8, 2021

  • Gustav

    Magnificent photos 👍🏼

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    • January 9, 2021

MLK

Magic sunset ballet: Scale-free emergence at the edge of criticality