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Summer Science Exhibition 2010

Living in a complex world









The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


The rocks that make up the earth can take many ocmplex forms. However, patterns can emerge in the way that rocks fold. Knowing what these patterns are can help us to locate rare minerals.

Researchers from University of Bath are using mathematics to understand the complexities of the world around us.

Mathematics can be used not only to understand complexity, but also to see how to use this knowledge to improve our daily lives. Research in complexity science studies the origins of complex behaviour, examples of complexity in the environment, and specific examples of how to exploit this knowledge to see the bigger picture. By understanding the kinds of overall patterns that emerge when many components interact, scientists are able to apply this fundamental knowledge to many aspects of physical and social sciences. "Understanding the patterns of complex behaviour can explain many aspects of our world, from the behaviour of crowds of people to how to make more accurate weather forecasts," says Professor Chris Budd from the Department of Mathematics at University of Bath.

Visitors to the exhibit will be able to see examples of complexity through interactive computer simulations of human and insect behaviour. Mechanical and electrical exhibits will demonstrate how complex behaviour arises even in some apparently simple systems such as electrical circuits. Visitors will also be able to contribute to the generation of emergent patterns by having their photograph included in a continually-evolving artwork animation illustrating that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Exhibited by University of Bath; Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

See all exhibits from 2010

Living in a complex world

The Royal Society is a Fellowship of the world's most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. We aim to expand the frontiers of knowledge by championing the development and use of science, mathematics, engineering and medicine for the benefit of humanity and the good of the planet.

The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK