back to article Blobs that swarm spark ‘it’s alive’ hypegasm

A group of scientists led by New York University’s Jérémie Palacci has demonstrated the swarming behaviour of clickbait headline-writers by showing off inanimate objects that swarm a little like living cells. It’s not even close to life – as Palacci himself tells New Scientist, “even though the particles have no social …


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  1. Knoydart


    What is it with the Muzac on the video?

    I was expected some stunning voice over commentary and well it was not as expected

    1. jr424242
      Thumb Up

      Re: Muzac

      Amen. Nothing with background music can be trusted.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Denarius Silver badge

    Well done sir!

    I am very pleased to see healthy scepticism about a "Neeews" item. Especially when said news, IMHO, appears to misrepresent the significance of the real published research.

  4. Martin Budden Bronze badge

    Didn't someone already study flocking with sheep?

    The answer was that the sheep in the flock aren't moving together, they are each just trying to get as far away as possible from the outside edge of the flock and into the centre where there is less chance of being eaten by a predator. And yes I strongly suspect that a simple rule like that could be expressed mathematically.

    Icon shows a deerstalker: deer herd too, presumably for the same reason.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Didn't someone already study flocking with sheep?

      A sheep wants to be near the middle to avoid being eaten but also wants to be at the 'front' to get at the choicest grass before the others do.

      Having said that there's a screensaver that's been doing flocking for a good 15 years or so.

    2. hplasm

      Re: Didn't someone already study flocking with sheep?

      Is there an iDevice in the centre of the flock?

  5. cortland

    Oddly familiar. Familiarly odd.

    Lifelike things getting together for blue movies...

  6. Allan George Dyer

    With a little more work...

    they might prove the whole media and web 2.0 phenomenon is not only unintelligent but not the result of any living agent1. Something that has been suspected, but not proved.

    (1) Including this post. I'm going, but there's no evidence I'll need that coat.

  7. Androgynous Crackwhore

    Interesting, amusing and strangely depressing - all at once. I now consider myself fittingly ambivalenced for a Monday morning. Thanks (?) El Reg.

  8. SuperTim


    That looked more like clumping to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Swarming?

      It's actual surface tension. The University of Nottingham does much better work (or should that be, uses less humbo jumbo language)

      It has nothing to do with "life" or "flocking" and everything to do with maths and physics. Flocking may use a similar mathematics, but it's a different mechanism (chemical/electrical feedback), where as particles are impact and friction forces.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry about all the the science news hypegasms ....

    but since you guys in the media keep falling for it, what's a scientist to do?

    There's shed loads of non-pr science all over the place. Various open-access journals, the arxiv, etc. Why not pick an interesting non-pr title and sned some emails, make some calls? Or, just keep on checking those press releases.

    Generally, Richard Chirgwin writeups are pretty good. But the any fault for reporting of "hypegasms" (as opposed to for constructing them) belongs to the reporter or media outlet. But then, at the Reg, a HYPEGASM is newsworthy in itself :-)

  10. Faye B

    Slow News Day?

    It really must be a slow news day if the clumping of particles makes the headlines. It just Flocking stupid.

  11. Barry Penge

    Headline over-hypes the article

    I came here expecting to see egregious examples of journalistic hyperbole and instead I got a sensible. albeit brief, article about some physics. Is there any evidence for the "it's alive!" hypegasm?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Headline over-hypes the article

      "Headline over-hypes the article"

      If I had a penny every time someone said that then I could probably afford to get onto the London property ladder.

      "Is there any evidence for the "it's alive!" hypegasm?"

      Searching Google News for "living crystal" brings in some choice examples.


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