Chapter 6. Emergence

I live in Brighton, on the southern coast of England. I moved here after a lifetime of living in urban environments; so I was, and remain, enraptured by the view to the south, where there is nothing but sea and sky. I used to walk home past Brighton’s West Pier, a once-beautiful Victorian pleasure palace, abandoned since the 1970s and burned to a skeleton in 2003. It’s now home to many thousands of starlings, and every night shortly before the sun goes down they perform a stunning murmation, circling in complex formations before settling to roost (see figure 6.1).

Figure 6.1. A murmation of starlings over Brighton’s West Pier, photographed by Kevin Meredith ( Low-level rules creating higher-level organization. ...

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