Re: Coordinated behavior among birds, fish, and insects

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Mon Aug 27 2001 - 01:25:38 BST

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Coordinated behavior among birds, fish, and insects
    Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 20:25:38 -0400
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    >From: "Dace" <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: Re: Coordinated behavior among birds, fish, and insects
    >Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 12:35:53 -0700
    >From: "Vincent Campbell"
    > > <It was Potts, not Selous, who measured the reaction time in
    > > dunlins. Potts
    > > > compared flocking behavior to a chorus line. While the reaction time
    > > > humans is 194 milliseconds, the gap between kicks in a chorus line is
    > > > 107 milliseconds. Potts said the people in the chorus line are able
    > > > predict when their turn will arrive, because they see it coming out of
    > > > corner of their eye. He claimed this effect applied to birds in a
    > > > as
    > > > well. The problem is that, half the time, the wave approaches each
    > > > from behind, implying that they have 360 degree vision. And even if
    > > > birds could see the wave coming, this doesn't explain how they're able
    > > > move so precisely with it. Despite being densely packed together, the
    > > > birds
    > > > never bump into each other. You may balk at my use of that dangerous
    > > > work,
    > > > "never," but birds in a flock have *never* been observed to collide
    > > > least not by anyone who was taking notes).>
    > > >
    > > Birds capacity to see behind them, given the position of their eyes
    > > of the side of their head (apart from birds of prey who have more front
    > > facing eyes and- notably- don't flock), is actually very good. They
    > > blind spot immediately behind their tail, but birds do not fly in
    > > lines (I believe that's something to do with the aerodynamic effects of
    > > birds flying), but in positions slightly to left or right of the bird in
    > > front of them (the famous Geese flying V is the obvious example). That
    > > gives them ample visual room to see what the birds behind them are
    >Point taken. But does this also apply to fish in a school, which
    >demonstrate the same apparently collective behavior? Can this account for
    >the fact that birds are able to react to changes in flock direction faster
    >than their measured reaction time? Can it account for their ability to
    >exactly in the right way when the shift comes?
    > > <As I said, birds don't do math, any more than planets do. But that
    > > doesn't
    > > > mean they're not subject to field-based forces, such as gravitational
    > > > morphic, which are themselves describable mathematically.>
    > > >
    > > Of course they do mathematics. All organisms do- just not in the
    > > conscious sense that we can with a piece of paper. Mathematical
    > > calculations are being done by our brains all the time we're alive-
    > > certainly when we're moving. All the time we're typing our e-mail
    > > the brain is engaged in mathematical calaculations in relation to our
    > > movements. Birds do it too when flying, landing hopping/running etc.
    > > So do other animals. That's not to say that organisms aren't subject to
    > > forces, like gravity, but you just don't another new force to explain
    > > organisms movement.
    >Math is a language which describes reality more accurately than previous
    >languages. Like them, it exists strictly within human imagination. The
    >brain facilitates our mathematical abstractions, but it doesn't contain
    >them. Abstraction is not a property of material objects. Even calculators
    >don't do math. "Calculation" is merely our interpretation of the purely
    >physical activities that occur in the machine.
    > > Loathed as I am to give to some help with this theory, but perhaps a
    > > better example than a flock of birds in flight for your arguments, might
    > > a slime mold particularly when all those cells seem to conglomerate and
    > > like a much larger single organism. Does Sheldrake have any views on
    > > molds?
    >Thanks for the suggestion.
    In _A New Science of Life_ (1995/1981. Park Street Press. Rochester,
    Vermont) Sheldrake talks about slime molds (see chapter 2). Scott Gilbert
    also discusses the slime mold in his text _Developmental Biology_ (1997.
    Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, Massachusetts). Interesting stuff.

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