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Watch ball bearings organise themselves into complex tree-like structures


These self-assembling wires demonstrate how organisation can arise in nature.



Self-organising patterns and systems arise everywhere in nature, from the growth of crystals and the folding of proteins to flocking birds and economic markets. In technology, self-organising swarms of robots and drones are a cutting-edge research interest. In both cases the same principles apply: elaborate behaviour can develop from large numbers of simpler elements interacting according to simple rules.

This video demonstrates how little it takes for self-organisation to occur.

Using nothing more complicated that a petri dish, castor oil, tiny ball bearings as and a high-voltage power supply, it shows the emergence of a self-assembling system of wires in which complex structures and movements that are eerily reminiscent of plant tendrils emerge from simple, local dynamics.

Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
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