Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

What can 32 metronomes teach us about fashions and trends?

Learners on the University of Groningen’s course “Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World” have been learning about emergence. Watch the video below and prepare to be amazed.

The way in which these 32 out-of-sync metronomes gradually begin to tick in time illustrates two phenomena:

  • Emergence: defined as “the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self organisation in complex systems.”
  • Downward causation: how group behaviour imposes a norm on individuals.

As learners on the course have pointed out, these phenomena can be used to explain all sorts of trends – from the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany, to the spread of hippy fashions into the mainstream in 1960s America.

Want to know more about this fascinating topic? “Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World” starts again on 19 January 2015 – join the course now.

FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education

Related stories on FutureLearn