A mysterious circle in the desert explained by Alan Turing’s theory 70 years ago

A mysterious circle in the desert explained by Alan Turing's theory 70 years ago

In 1952, Alan Turing tried to change humanity’s understanding of biology.

in Breakthrough paper, A British mathematician Turing pattern -The concept that a stable pattern can be created when the dynamics of a certain uniform system are disturbed.

This’order of turmoil’ became the theoretical basis for all kinds of strange and repetitive motifs found in the natural world.

It was a good theory. In fact, after decades, scientists still Amazing example of it In unusual and exotic places: Real Turing patterns brought life to life in locales where Turing himself never had a chance to see.

The latest incarnation of this theoretical phenomenon is Fairy circle – A mysterious desert grass formation that grows around distinct circular patches of dry soil, first recorded in the Namib desert of southern Africa.

Drone image of the Australian fairy circle. (Stefan Gechin / University of Göttingen)

The description of their existence ranges from myth to mediocre, and until recent years, their origins were still controversial. Early on, one view argued that strange circles were attributed to termite activity under African lands. However, later discovery of the fairy circle in the Australian Outback complicates the narrative, showing that it is possible to find the fairy circle without a firm connection with termites.

Or, scientists have suggested that the fairy circles are the result of plants arranging themselves to make the most of limited water resources in harsh, dry environments.

That sounds plausible and, if true, would be another spontaneous example of the Turing pattern. However, there is not much empirical evidence to support the hypothesis in practice, researchers say, as physicists who tend to model the Turing dynamics of these systems rarely do field work in the desert to support their ideas.

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“There is a strong imbalance between the theoretical vegetation models. A priori Assumptions and scarcity of empirical evidence that the modeled process is correct from an ecological point of view, “a team led by ecologist Stefan Gechin at the University of Göttingen, Germany Explained in a new paper.

To bridge this gap, Getzin and fellow researchers used drones equipped with multi-spectral cameras to examine the fairy circle overhead near Newman, a mining town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

According to one of Tim’s hypotheses, the arrangement of the fairy circles in the Turing pattern will be stronger among grasses that rely more on moisture.

The research team analyzed the spatial separation of high-energy and low-energy grasses and used a moisture sensor to check readings from the ground, and found that healthy, high-energy grasses were systematically more strongly associated with fairy circles than low-life grasses. Found that there is.

That said, for the first time we got empirical data suggesting that the pairing circle is consistent with Turing’s decades-old theory.

“What’s interesting is that the grass is actively engineering its environment by forming a symmetrically spaced spacing pattern.” Getzin says.

“The vegetation benefits from the additional runoff provided by the large fairy circles, which keeps dry ecosystems functional even in very harsh and dry environments. Without grass chairs self-organization, the area would be desert. Dirt.”

The grasses that make up the fairy circle, according to the researchers, grow together in a cooperative manner and regulate the environment to better cope with the near-permanent aridity of extremely dry ecosystems.

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The team has said that more field work will be needed to further validate the mathematical model, but now it looks like we’re closer to finishing the book on this mysterious phenomenon than ever before.

“By forming a periodic crevice pattern, plants benefit from the additional water resources provided by the Fairy Circle crevice.” The author explains, “Thus maintaining ecosystem function in low precipitation compared to uniform vegetation.”

The findings are Ecology journal.

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