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What Is Emergence?

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“You could spend a lifetime studying an individual water molecule and never deduce the precise hardness or slipperiness of ice. Watch a lone ant under a microscope for as long as you like, and you still couldn’t predict that thousands of them might collaboratively build bridges with their bodies to span gaps. Scrutinize the birds in a flock or the fish in a school and you wouldn’t find one that’s orchestrating the movements of all the others.”

How do these phenomena emerge without a central organizing entity? Go behind this Quanta Magazine article, How Complex Wholes Emerge From Simple Parts, with the video above: What is Emergence?

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“Nature is filled with such examples of complex behaviors that arise spontaneously from relatively simple elements. Researchers have even coined the term ’emergence’ to describe these puzzling manifestations of self-organization, which can seem, at first blush, inexplicable. Where does the extra injection of complex order suddenly come from? Answers are starting to come into view…”

The video was directed by Emily Driscoll of BonSci Films and animated by Lottie Kingslake.

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Previously from Quanta and BonSci: The Universal Pattern Popping Up in Math, Physics, and Biology.

Plus, watch more videos about swarms and crystals including:
• The incredible physics of ants and ant rafts
• Starling murmuration, an enthralling five minutes in the Netherlands
• The Arctic, a crystallization time-lapse film
• Can A Thousand Tiny Swarming Robots Outsmart Nature?
• Bio-inspired particle robots that “move with no brain”

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