LineBugs(tm)(in collaboration with Jim Crutchfield and John Mahoney)
Laboratory results with living filamentous bacteria suggest that bacteria clump into specific patterns when they move and interact (see the Experimental Microbialite Morphology page). To test the origins of patterns formed, we are modeling the motion of filamenous automata in viscous media. The LineBugs(tm), as we affectionately call them, collide with each other conserving linear and angular momentum. They are allowed to move autonomously either in a random direction or parallel to their elongation. Motion is damped, reflecting the viscosity of the medium.
Results suggest that random motion of LineBugs creates patches of oriented but dispersed LineBugs. In contrast, when LineBugs move parallel to their elongation, they form elongate clumps that are similar to those observed in the lab (image at right). We are revising my Python code to be more robust and to treat motion through a viscous fluid more accurately. Then we will explore pattern emergence in the phase space defined by LineBug geometry, density, migration impluse size, frequency of reversals, and fluid damping.
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Dawn Y. Sumner
Department of Geology
University of California
Davis, CA 95616