Phenomena

Doing the Wave

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Not everything that behaves like a fluid is a liquid or a gas. In particular, groups of organisms can behave in a collective manner that is remarkably flow-like. From schools of fish to fire-ant rafts, nature is full of examples of groups with fluid-like properties. 

One of the most mesmerizing examples are these giant honeybee colonies, which essentially do “the wave” to frighten away predators like wasps. Researchers are still trying to understand and mimic the way these groups coordinate such behaviors. Can even complicated patterns be generated by a simple set of rules an individual animal follows? That’s the sort of question active matter researchers investigate. Check out the video above to see a whole cliff’s worth of bee colonies shimmering. (Image and video credit: BBC Earth)

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