Saturday, March 29, 2014


Alan Turing, one of the true giants in both science and technology, has appeared in BRT in numerous articles describing his work, not only as the inventor of AI and the digital computer (along with John Von Neumann) but also on his seminal contribution to Chaos (Stone Soup) when he posited his then revolutionary theory of how patterns emerge from seeming randomness as seen through the coloration of animals. Now, it seems researchers have put Turing's theory to the test and found out he was right about how chaos functions in the real world.

According to Turing’s theory, designs like fur patterns result from the interactions between individual cells; in other words, the state of a cell influences that of its neighbors, and they, in turn, influence their neighbors. You can see the results of this process in the images collected here; they’re a kind of digital representation of Turing’s idea, except using pixels instead of cells. It’s the relationship among these cells and pixels that ultimately produces a pattern from randomness — a relationship that relies on interacting, molecular signals that spread among groups of otherwise identical cells.

Turing called this the reaction-diffusion process, meaning that it’s driven by reactive molecules that can diffuse between cells. He called these molecules “morphogens” because they affect the morphology, or physical character, of a cell. One molecule activates a change, like color, and one inhibits it. Patterns are produced by varying concentrations of the morphogens as they interact and spread through a population of cells.

The video above shows how this interaction works, something, in this case, psychedelic, wonderful and spot on. :) Seen below is a double pendulum example of chaos in action.

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