30 December 2014

Both strange and beautiful

I find [synchrony] beautiful and strange in a way that can only be described as religious. And I know I’m not alone in that reaction. When I read the old accounts by sixteenth century voyagers to Malaysia and Thailand, the first Westerners to witness the astonishing spectacle of fireflies flashing in unison for miles along the riverbanks, I hear in them that same sense of rapture... 
For reasons I wish I understood, the spectacle of synch strikes a chord in us, somewhere deep in our souls. It’s a wonderful and terrifying thing. [Seeing] it touches people at a primal level. Maybe we instinctively understand that if we ever find the source of spontaneous order, we will have discovered the secret of the universe.
from Sync by Steven Strogatz (2003)

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