4/04/2006

Chaos, Order, and Coupled Oscillators

A recent paper in Physical Review letters describes work on a network of coupled oscillators - in this case, interconnected pendulums - and how synchrony selectively emerges only under random external influence. From the Washington University at St Louis press release:

"The researchers noticed that when driven by ordered forces the various pendulums behaved chaotically and swung out of sync like a group of intoxicated synchronized swimmers. This was uexpected — shouldn't synchronized forces yield synchronized pendulums?"

"But then came the real surprise: When they introduced disorder — forces were applied at random to each oscillator — the system became ordered and synchronized."

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