Is Math Really the Language of Nature? This Physicist is on a Quest to Find Out.

One of the most vivid memories Martin Rodriguez-Vega has of his hometown of Comala—located in the western coastal state of Colima, Mexico, and famous for its all-white buildings—is seeing flocks of birds flying into beautiful sunsets.

Rodriguez-Vega recalls watching the birds swooping in the sky as if dancing harmoniously—each bird flying adroitly to form large and intricate patterns in the air.

At the time, the interaction between those birds was simply something upon which Rodriguez-Vega liked to gaze. Later, as a doctoral student in theoretical physics, he came to understand that the birds’ behavior was an example of a complex phenomenon scientists call emergence: patterns or behaviors that form or emerge thanks to the dexterity of the individual parts of a dynamic system, such as birds in a flock.

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Physics
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