Why do bees fuss about so much when they fly, instead of forming a tidy flock like birds? Birds flying in a flock keep to a highly ordered pattern, whereas a swarm of bees is a cloud of chaos. This difference has long puzzled scientists, but now a team of Japanese researchers has come up with a simple mathematical model to explain it. [The researchers] began with a simple analogy. Stars in a galaxy move under the influence of each other's gravity in a way that can be described by Newton's laws. Identify the influences felt by an insect or bird, the researchers reasoned, and its flying patterns should be just as easy to predict.
[Adapted from New Scientist, 15 June 1996]
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