David Foster Wallace delivered this commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005. It is amongst the most remarkable videos conjured from a speech-turned-into-a-book I’ve...
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No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above England and Scotland. The birds gather in shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter’s frigid bite. Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. The starlings’ murmurations are manifestations of swarm intelligence, which in different contexts is practiced by schools of fish, swarms of bees and colonies of ants. As far as I am aware, even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ aerobatics, which rely on the tiny birds’ quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions-and predators-in the giant flock.
Here, Liberty Winsor Clive and Liberty Smith were out for a late afternoon canoe ride and fortunately remembered to bring their video camera. What they saw was a wonderful murmuration display, caught in the short video. Watch the variation of color and intensity of the patterns that the birds make in proximity to one other. And take a look at the girl in the bow of the canoe watching the aerial display. Enjoy.
When you consider the amazing physics and creative artistry of execution, and you add to that knowledge of how much time and preparation went into the Flashmob Wedding in Moscow posted up in my last video, one can only wonder what might be possible if the entire human race could create and execute “ANYTHING” with this level of coordination. Surely, there must be some swarming intelligence in humans of a positive nature.