Alan Champneys: Why pedestrian bridges wobble - synchronisation and the wisdom of the crowd | University of Oxford

Alan Champneys: Why pedestrian bridges wobble - synchronisation and the wisdom of the crowd

Speaker
Professor Alan Champneys - Professor of Applied Non-linear Mathematics at the University of Bristol
Event date
Event time
17:30 - 18:30
Venue
Lecture Theatre L1
Mathematical Institute, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Road
Oxford
OX2 6GG
Venue details

Lecture Theatre 1

Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Free
Disabled access?
Yes
Booking required
Required

There is a beautiful mathematical theory of how independent agents tend to synchronise their behaviour when weakly coupled. Examples include how audiences spontaneously rhythmically applause and how nearby pendulum clocks tend to move in sync. Another famous example is that of the London Millennium Bridge. On the day it opened, the bridge underwent unwanted lateral vibrations that are widely believed to be due to pedestrians synchronising their footsteps.

In this talk Alan will explain how this theory is in fact naive and there is a simpler mathematical theory that is more consistent with the facts and which explains how other bridges have behaved including Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge. He will also reflect on the nature of mathematical modelling and the interplay between mathematics, engineering and the real world.

Alan Champneys is a Professor of Applied Non-linear Mathematics at the University of Bristol.

Please email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk to register.

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