Spontaneous Rhythms in Nature and Technology
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Rhythms abound in the natural world. Spontaneous rhythmic coordination can be essential: our beating heart cells must synchronize precisely – or else! Sometimes, too much coordination is disastrous: brain seizures can occur as a result of abnormally high levels of synchronous neuronal activity. Examples of spontaneous synchronization are found in every branch of science, from the beautiful nightly light shows of firefly swarms to the synchronized swinging of pendulum clocks. Researchers the world over are trying to understand how coordinated rhythms arise and trying to discover ways to control them. An array of applications awaits: faster computers, brighter lasers, collision avoiding cars; new strategies for treating heart and brain disorders; even an end to the devastation of periodic locust swarms.