Summer Science Exhibition

Living in a complex world

The rocks that make up the earth can take many complex forms. However, patterns can emerge in the way that rocks fold.

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

Exhibitor's latest blog

The end of the end, or perhaps The Last Post ?
By Jonathan Dawes | Wednesday 7th July, 10:09am

One final piece of news in which both of the regular readers of this blog might be interested. I thought I should end on a forward-looking note. The latest issue of Philosophical Transactions A is an issue called 'Visions of the Future' - a collection of short general articles by younger scientists summarising recent work in their research area and looking to the future.


For the next month or so, all the content can be downloaded free from the journal's homepage:


I'm particularly excited about this since I submitted a contribution, with the catchy title 'The emergence of a coherent structure for coherent structures: localized states in nonlinear systems', so you can get some idea of the kind of thing I think about for the 'day job'. Hopefully its not too heavy going - certainly there are plenty of pictures. Do have a look!

To keep on cheering for the home team for a moment, I'd like to also recommend Sofia Pascu's article 'Towards nanomedicines: design protocols to assemble, visualize and test carbon nanotube probes for multi-modality biomedical imaging.' which is similarly absorbing. Happy reading! From me, and from the Festo penguins, it's 'So long, and thanks for all the fish'.

View all 'Living in a complex world' blog posts

The Exhibition is located in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, and takes place from Friday 25 June to Sunday 4 July 2010. Open Friday 25 June 6pm - 8.30pm, then daily 10am - 8.30pm. Entrance is free. For groups larger than 12 people, please contact us to book.