Our collaborators developed a powerful theoretical approach to describing and predicting crowd behavior that is easiest to understand when you picture a human crowd. For example, imagine you go to a stadium to see your favorite band. The show is about to start, so you look for the best spot to watch. You walk up to the stage and politely pass by the people at the edge of the crowd. Those people have forgone the best view in order to have a little more personal space. As you near the front though, it gets more and more crowded.
Tsevi Beatus, John Guckenheimer and Itai Cohen, The Journal of the Royal Society Interface 12, 20150075 (2015) PDF
Flocks of birds and schools of fish are two common examples of collective motion. Though herding behavior in animals is well recognized, humans exhibit their own set of emergent phenomena. For example, pedestrians walking down the sidewalk form lanes, and stadium crowds perform "The Wave".
How do insects solve the problem of keeping stable in the face of unpredictable disturbances, such as gusts of wind? We devised a way to study insect flight control and stability by experimentally “tripping” insects in flight!