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Starlings and Social Networks

Becky Ripley and Emily Knight explore what the swirling patterns in a starling murmuration can tell us about our own social networks, and the way our ideas ripple through them.

Starling murmurations, those swirling, shifting sky-patterns made by hundreds of birds moving in synchrony, are one of nature’s greatest spectacles. How do they avoid crashing into each other? Becky Ripley and Emily Knight delve into the maths behind the movement with some computer modelling to help them chart the flight patterns, and discover the secret.

As for us humans, sadly we don’t fly together through the sky in swirling clouds. But there are patterns to how we interact with one another. Like a ripple of movement, travelling through a cloud of starlings, ideas can spread through social media with blistering speed. Here too, computer modelling can help us chart how opinions morph as we react to those around us. Do we have more in common with the birds than we think?

Featuring Jamie Wood from the University of York, and Dr Jennifer Golbeck from the University of Maryland.

Available now

14 minutes

Last on

Tue 19 Nov 2019 09:30