ROTW: Scientists Discover Exotic New Patterns of Synchronization

How patterns of synchronization and asynchronization can modulate system stability.

“In the quest to understand and control the way things sync up, scientists are searching for the mathematical rules dictating when different synchronization patterns occur. That major research effort is unfinished, but it’s already clear that synchronization is a direct manifestation of symmetry — and the way it breaks.”


H/t @Rithikha and @Seth


I love this stuff.

At DWeb Camp last year I facilitated some interactive group exercises inspired by these emergent synchronization phenomena.

It went like this:

First, we split up into pairs and practiced “silent listening”

  • the pairs of partners randomly distributed around the space
  • each partner came up with a silent movement
  • the pairs practiced doing their movements in a call and response manner i.e. you do your movement, I do my movement, you do your movement, I do my movement…

After a few minutes of that we took a short break for reflections then took it to the next level:

  • we started back into the silent listening, but after a minute or two I asked everyone to prepare a noise they could make along with their movement
  • after a bit of a pause I prompted people to add their noises all at once…

Immediately upon adding the noises it was clear that the group was already deeply in sync. Without any metronome or global sense of time they were making this complex, pulsing soundscape, rhythmically intricate but steady and consistent.