Mysterious patterns arise through simple feedback mechanisms and self-organization
Perfect circles of stones cover the ground in parts of Alaska and the Norwegian islands of Spitsbergen. Elsewhere in the far north, stones form other striking patterns on the ground: polygons, stripes, islands, and labyrinths. No, pranksters are not at work in these remote areas, nor are aliens, elves, or any other outside forces moving the stones around. According to scientists who have studied the phenomenon, cyclic freezing and thawing of the ground drives simple feedback mechanisms that generate these remarkable patterns.
"The patterns form by self-organization, and the same fundamental processes are at work in the formation of all these different patterns," said Mark Kessler, a postdoctoral researcher in the Earth Sciences Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Tim Stephens | EurekAlert!
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