Unexpectedly Intriguing!
September 7, 2018

What do the eyes of chickens, the nuclei of uranium atoms, the distribution of prime numbers and the profit maximization scheme of Cuernavaca, Mexico's bus drivers have in common?

Quanta kicks off the second season of its video series In Theory with the surprising universality of a mathematical pattern hidden within all these things!

The emergence of a pattern of universality between random and ordered systems will often represent an optimized solution for a hybrid system where complex interactions are involved, which can have immense practical applications.

For example, it is the sort of thing that might be used in setting adequate staffing levels for more rapidly processing international travelers through an airport's immigration customs facility. Or to accurately predict whether social conflicts may arise in a public setting. Or in the case of artificial intelligence, to replace the Cuernavaca bus drivers' spies in developing more responsive methods for setting bus stop arrivals and departures.

Or if you really want to go out on the edge, where the "disordered hyperuniformity" discovered in chicken retinas is being applied in newly developed materials that may be "potentially useful for energy-saving materials that prevent heat accumulation by allowing the free transmission of infrared radiation", which would lead to more efficient batteries among other real-world applications.

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