With apologies to Bruce Springsteen, but the lyrics from his classic 1975 hit “Born to Run” may be slightly inaccurate, at least according to new research covered this week in WIRED. Instead of running, humans are more drawn toward other instinctive collective behaviors such as flocking or swarming, and scientists in Germany have uncovered hints of these mechanisms by studying crowds.
Running is certainly an activity that many humans enjoy; however, it’s not necessarily hardwired into our brains. Large-scale behaviors found at events like the Super Bowl may be driven by human tendencies that allows us to drift toward our own.
Iain Couzin, an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, has studied such collective behaviors in many parts of our society as well as in the animal world. Along with Nobel Laureate Mario Molina–one of the foremost researchers of the Antarctic ozone hole–Couzin joined a National Geographic Live event to discuss the surprising connections between swarms of insects and collections of molecules such as CFC implicated in the destruction of the ozone layer.