Physics & QBio Hagoromo Hour: Raphael Sarfati, University of Colorado at Boulder, “Emergent collective behavior: the fascinating example of firefly synchrony”

Event time: 
Wednesday, March 1, 2023 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
Bass Center for Molecular and Structural Biology (BASS) See map
266 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

Collective living systems, from cell tissues to bird flocks, often exhibit emergent properties reminiscent of more traditional physical systems. Despite the fact that individual entities are active (consume internal energy) and cognitive (process and react to sensory information in complex ways), large assemblies often self-organize into simple patterns. For example, they may produce internal structures, coherent dynamics, or quick transitions between different states.
In this talk, we will briefly review the framework of the physics of collective behavior and focus on a spectacular phenomenon: the spontaneous synchronization of thousands of firefly flashes. We will explore what we can learn from the 3D reconstruction of firefly swarms about their collective interactions, and how the natural occurrence fits into or contradicts current mathematical models of synchrony
Hosts: Michael Abbott (, Isabella Graf (, and Mason Rouches (