A Murmuration of Starlings

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Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith happened upon a flock of starlings, called a murmuration, while canoeing at dusk, and captured "one of nature's greatest and most fleeting phenomena" on video. The starlings begin their astonishing flight about thirty seconds into the video. 

Alexis Madrigal explains the complex dynamics of starlings' flight:

Last year, Italian theoretical physicist Giorgio Parisi took on the challenge of explaining the murmuration. What he found, as ably explained by my old Wired colleague Brandon Keim, is that the math equations that best describe starling movement are borrowed "from the literature of 'criticality,' of crystal formation and avalanches -- systems poised on the brink, capable of near-instantaneous transformation." They call it "scale-free correlation," and it means that no matter how big the flock, "If any one bird turned and changed speed, so would all the others."

Read the rest of his post here.

For more work by Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith, visit http://www.islandsandrivers.co.uk/.

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
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