Skip to main content

Hidden Messages in Beautiful Patterns

This week on the physics buzz podcast, scientists in Lithuania have used the science of self-organizing patterns to conceal top secret messages. Self organizing patterns are patterns which emerge from a system, but are not imposed on the system by any controlling force. Individual subunits (like the pigment cells in zebra skin, or termites in a colony) do their own thing with a basic set of instructions. The individual actions of these subunits unintentionally add up to gorgeous works of art, which can also give evolutionary advantage to some organisms. Here are some examples of self organizing patterns in nature - artwork without an artist.

Zebra stripes:

Cone shells (amazing images by Richard Parker):



The tunnels inside a termite nest:
Even flocks of birds operate under the principles of self-organizing patterns:


Here is a slideshow with a basic explanation of self-organizing patterns, and some more great examples.

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know:
"What's going on in this video? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream.

(We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux)

Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?