Thursday, August 21, 2008

What I Love about Mason #1

A book written by a physicist-journalist is required reading for my macroeconomics class.

While certainly out of the ordinary--and probably not on the syllabus at Harvard--I think Turtles, Termites and Traffic Jams will be a good addition to the class. And it highlights one of the many reasons I chose GMU.

From the first page:
A flock of birds sweeps across the sky. Like a well-choreographed dance troupe, the birds veer to the left in unison. Then, suddenly, they all dart to the right and swoop down toward the ground. Each movement seems perfectly coordinated. The flock as a whole is as graceful--maybe more graceful--than any of the birds within it.

How do birds keep their movements so orderly, so synchronized? Most people assume birds play a game of follow-the-leader: the bird at the font of the flock leads, and the others follow. But that's not so. In fact, most bird flocks don't have leaders at all. There is no special "leader bird." Rather, the flock is an example of what some people call "self-organization."
Follow the link to read more.

1 comment:

Angela said...

Have you ever read "The Once and Future King"? that quote reminds me of it. I highly recommend it.