- Stephan Matthiesen
Ten morning sessions on the mechanisms of pattern formation in Nature, running form January to March 2011 as part of the open studies programme at Edinburgh University.
Why do trees look like trees and snowflakes like snowflakes? How do termites build elaborate structures without supervision? What can boiling porridge tell us about clouds? This fully illustrated course explains how patterns in nature can form through self-organisation, using examples and methods from a variety of scientific disciplines. Suitable for anyone who’s ever wondered about the astonishing complexity of nature, you’ll never look at the world in quite the same way again.
- Tutor: Stephan Matthiesen
- Mondays from 12 January 2011 (10 Classes) 10:00 - 12:00
- Basil Skinner Room, 12 Buccleuch Place, at the Office for Lifelong Learning, The University of Edinburgh
- Course fee: £75.00/£50.00 conc. - please register at the Office for Lifelong Learning or online through the Course Information Page
- Course code: S216 - Course details
12 Jan 2011: Introduction
A tour through patterns in nature, outlining and structuring the topic, and brainstorming: which patterns have students observed in nature?
19 Jan. 2011: Waves and oscillations
We look at waves in the ocean, the atmosphere (cloud patterns!) etc., and why our heart beats.
Animations and Videos:
- Tsunami in the Indian Ocean 2004 (see also the Wikipedia-Entry)
- Oscillating Chemical Reaction (Belousov-Zhabotinsky):
- Slime Mould Videos:
26 Jan. 2011: Regularity and chaos
Using examples like population cycles or climate fluctuations, we introduce concepts like the logistic equation, bifurcations and attractors.
Model in a spreadsheet: Excel file (XLS, 12kb). Try varying the values in the yellow fields (see presentation). Can you find the value for r at which periodic behaviour changes to chaotic behaviour?
2 Feb. 2011: Animal Cooperation
How fish swarms communicate and how social insects cooperate.
- Video (in German) The clever swarm: a spectacular experiment with 300 volunteers, Quarks&Co, WDR, 10 April 2007
- Video (in German): Mass panic in Mecca: Traffic researchers analyse flow of pilgrims, Quarks&Co, WDR, 10 April 2007
Some current research papers on "swarm intelligence":
- Krause, J., Ruxton, G. D., Krause, S., (2010). Swarm intelligence in animals and humans. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 25 (1), 28-34. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2009.06.016
- Katsikopoulos, K. V., King, A. J. (2010). Swarm Intelligence in Animal Groups: When Can a Collective Out-Perform an Expert? PLoS ONE 5 (11), e15505+. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0015505
- Ward, A. J. W., Herbert-Read, J. E., Sumpter, D. J. T., Krause, J. (2011). Fast and accurate decisions through collective vigilance in fish shoals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1007102108
And, relevant for some earlier classes:
- Cartwright, J. H. E., Nakamura, H. (2009). What kind of a wave is Hokusai's Great wave off Kanagawa? Notes and Records of the Royal Society 63 (2), 119-135. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsnr.2007.0039
9 Feb. 2011: Spatial patterns
Cracks in mud, paint, soil patterns in Arctic soils, and similar topics.
- Rietkerk, M., Vandekoppel, J., (2008). Regular pattern formation in real ecosystems. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 23 (3), 169-175. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2007.10.013
16 Feb. 2011: Aggregation and growth processes
Crystals, snowflakes, lichen, and the shells of snails.
23 Feb. 2011: Cellular automata
Recap of some of the earlier topics and how they can be modelled/described by simple discrete models.
- Mirek's Cellebration: Online Java applet and downloadable Java programme for running cellular automata
2 Mar. 2011: Fractals
Leaves, trees, river systems and other fractal systems.
9 Mar. 2011: Miscellaneous topics
(Human) perception of randomness and patterns.
16 Mar. 2011: Concluding Session
- NOAA: Honshu tsunami event, 11 March 2011: Information and propagation animation (NOAA/Youtube)
- NOAA: Chile tsunami event, 27 Feb. 2010: Video with more information on forecasting and observation of tsunamis
- NASA: Earthquake waves - educational video (Youtube)
- New research on Turing patterns in 3 dimensions:
Bánsági, T., Vanag, V. K., Epstein, I. R. (2011) Tomography of Reaction-Diffusion microemulsions reveals Three-Dimensional turing patterns. Science 331 (6022), 1309-1312. URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1200815
- Zuletzt aktualisiert: Montag, 21. Januar 2013