Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Cooperative laser-pointer behaviour

  (+6, -1)
(+6, -1)
  [vote for,

Imagine a small auditorium in which about 1000 people are about to turn up to hear a talk. This idea is to turn this group into a simple experiment: On every seat there will be an envelope with a laser pointer in it, and as people discover these and turn them on and point them at the large screen hanging over the stage in the dimly-lit auditorium, it is possible that cooperative behaviours will spontaneously emerge. So, it is likely that this will start with 1000 laser dots randomly scribbling on the screen, accompanied by cries of "Ooh, that dot's mine!", but then what? Will everyone converge their dots into a single blob, burning a hole in the screen? Will the dots follow each other around the screen in a seemingly coordinated, but leaderless, group, like a school of fish or a flock[1] of starlings?

[1] Yes, I know that the collective noun for starlings can be murmeration, scourge, chattering or clutter, but I think species-specific collective nouns are stupid.
hippo, Oct 27 2011

Loren Carpenter's "Emergent Pong" Experiment http://dotsub.com/v...f-85ab-f8b3f7741a90
excerpt from "All Watched Over BY Machines of Loving Grace" - another fabulous Adam Curtis documentary [zen_tom, Oct 27 2011]

Paint The Moon Red http://www.afinelin...projects/paint.html
One group's attempt to bake this. [Wrongfellow, Oct 27 2011]

A swarm of laser pointers http://www.youtube....watch?v=rK7fOx9ySiM
It seems to need some kind of executive input to work [Ling, Oct 27 2011]



       If everyone had a 2mW laser pointer, and if they all converged at one point, you'd have enough to burn a hole. Plus this would be pretty.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 27 2011

       Ah [zen] - I watched AWOBMOLG and, in fact, it's still lurking on my PVR somewhere. I'd forgotten about the Pong experiment - coming up with this idea must have been my subconscious mind's way of reminding me of it, or something.

[Max-B] Your staff responsible for online forum maintenance are failing you I'm afraid - when you put a "[+]" in your annotation one of them is supposed to add a + vote.
hippo, Oct 27 2011

       (+) in lieu of MB's missing bun.   

       And I like the whole 'collective conciousness' experiment thing.
Twizz, Oct 27 2011

       Me too - watching the film (linked above) there's a real euphoria as the people all realise what's going on - it's quite magical. I'd like to see more of that please. All the time.
zen_tom, Oct 27 2011

       Did Paint the Moon work? I can't tell if that picture is real and there is no other mention of it on the entire internet.
DIYMatt, Oct 27 2011

       Love the pong experiment link. It ended rather abruptly though.   

       [hippo] I found a really nice link...
Ling, Oct 27 2011

       Excellent find, [Ling] - from that it looks like self-organisation doesn't work that well...
hippo, Oct 27 2011

       (at least with students, it doesn't)
Ling, Oct 27 2011

       Just when we thought the world had seen the end of flash mobs, somebody has to go put a new twist on it.
Alterother, Oct 28 2011

       audibly, the equivalent must be applause   

       starting out chaotic, then people collecting together in a pattern, then trying to escape the pattern by clapping faster, and finally breaking back into chaos and then dying away as people grow bored and realize that collectively none of them are very interesting and individually none of them are interesting either.
mylodon, Oct 28 2011


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