A chance encounter and shared moment with one of natures greatest and most fleeting phenomena.
This video was captured on the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland that is the major physical barrier between the east and west sides of the country. There are fewer than twenty crossing-points between the north and south ends of this river.
Italian physicist Giorgio Parisi studied their movement in 2010 and he breaks it down like this:
It’s a beautiful phenomenon to behold. And neither biologists nor anyone else can yet explain how starlings seem to process information and act on it so quickly. It’s precisely the lack of lag between the birds’ movements that make the flocks so astonishing.
The math equations that best describe starling movement are borrowed from the literature of ‘criticality,’ of crystal formation and avalanches — systems poised on the brink, capable of near-instantaneous transformation. They call it ‘scale-free correlation,’ and it means that no matter how big the flock, if any one bird turned and changed speed, so would all the others.