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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.

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