Mar 31, 2024

How Is Flocking Like Computing?

Posted by in categories: biological, computing, food, physics

Birds flock. Locusts swarm. Fish school. Within assemblies of organisms that seem as though they could get chaotic, order somehow emerges. The collective behaviors of animals differ in their details from one species to another, but they largely adhere to principles of collective motion that physicists have worked out over centuries. Now, using technologies that only recently became available, researchers have been able to study these patterns of behavior more closely than ever before.

In this episode, the evolutionary ecologist Iain Couzin talks with co-host Steven Strogatz about how and why animals exhibit collective behaviors, flocking as a form of biological computation, and some of the hidden fitness advantages of living as part of a self-organized group rather than as an individual. They also discuss how an improved understanding of swarming pests such as locusts could help to protect global food security.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn or your favorite podcasting app, or you can stream it from Quanta.

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