Synchronized behavior can be seen all over the place. From fireflies flashing in unison, to birds flying in their V structure, to menstrual synchronization in women. In fact, human synchronization can be observed in many social behavioral circumstances, such as; walking in time, having the same interests as the people around us, and mimicking hand gestures. This is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation to foster social cohesion. Synchronization is even rooted in our DNA!
A paper in the journal Physical Review Research, discusses the mathematical basis behind this phenomenon that has previously been a mystery. The team’s newly expanded equations display that individual randomness can indeed give rise to synchronization. Their formula was shown to be applicable over natural, electrical and computer systems.
The group, from Trinity College Dublin, actually based their idea on the strange incident that offbeat ticking clocks become synchronized when they are physically connected. “The equations we have developed describe an assembly of laser-like devices — acting as our ‘oscillating clocks’ — and they essentially unlock the secret to synchronization. These same equations describe many other kinds of oscillators, however, showing that synchronization is more readily achieved in many systems than was previously thought,” said Dr. Paul Eastham, a physicist that worked on the paper.
He continued: “Many things that exhibit repetitive behavior can be considered clocks, from flashing fireflies and applauding crowds to electrical circuits, metronomes, and lasers. Independently they will oscillate at slightly different rates, but when they are formed into an assembly their mutual influences can overcome that variation.”
This fascinating discovery has potential applications in developing new types of light processing computer technology allowing for more coordinated and well connected machines.
Source study: Physical Review Research – Synchronization in disordered oscillator lattices: Nonequilibrium phase transition for driven-dissipative bosons