MSUM Physics/Astronomy Lecture Series Presents:
Kinetic theory for the collective motion of self-driven units: flocking of bacteria, birds and robots
By: Thomas Ihle from the Department of Physics, NDSU

Friday, Nov. 2
3:00-3:50 p.m.
Hagen Hall 325

This talk is about the collective behavior of interacting units moving with about the same absolute velocity. Systems of interest range from non-living units such as shaken rods, simple robots and biomolecules to schools of fish, flocks of birds and groups of migrating bacteria [1]. Eye-catching behavior such as the swirling of a fish swarm under pressure from a nearby predator are observed. Here, the phenomenon of collective motion is approached with the mind set of statistical physics. Emphasis is put on minimal models that are realistic enough to reproduce the numerous related observations but are simple enough to be treated numerically and analytically[2]. It will be shown how theoretical approaches from the theory of gases and from physical chemistry, namely Boltzmann and Master-equations, can be adapted to study non-equilibrium phase transitions in systems of many simultaneously moving entities [3]. Opportunities for mainly numerical undergraduate research will be pointed out.