The Surprising Secret of Synchronization

Published 2021-03-31
How does order spontaneously arise out of chaos? This video is sponsored by Kiwico — go to for 50% off your first month of any crate.

An enormous thanks to Prof. Steven Strogatz — this video would not have been possible without him. Much of the script-writing was inspired and informed by his wonderful book Sync, and his 2004 TED talk. He is a giant in this field, and has literally written the book on chaos, complexity, and synchronization. It was hard to find a paper in this field that Steven (or one of his students) didn't contribute to. His Podcast "The Joy of X" is wonderful — please listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts

Nicky Case's Amazing Firefly Interactive —

Great Kuramoto Model Interactive —…


Strogatz, S. H. (2012). Sync: How order emerges from chaos in the universe, nature, and daily life. Hachette UK. —

Strogatz, S. H. (2000). From Kuramoto to Crawford: exploring the onset of synchronization in populations of coupled oscillators. Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, 143(1-4), 1-20. —

Goldsztein, G. H., Nadeau, A. N., & Strogatz, S. H. (2021). Synchronization of clocks and metronomes: A perturbation analysis based on multiple timescales. Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, 31(2), 023109. —

The Broughton Suspension Bridge and the Resonance Disaster —

Bennett, M., Schatz, M. F., Rockwood, H., & Wiesenfeld, K. (2002). Huygens's clocks. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 458(2019), 563-579. —

Pantaleone, J. (2002). Synchronization of metronomes. American Journal of Physics, 70(10), 992-1000. —

Kuramoto, Y. (1975). Self-entrainment of a population of coupled non-linear oscillators. In International symposium on mathematical problems in theoretical physics (pp. 420-422). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. --

Great video by Minute Earth about Tidal Locking and the Moon —

Strogatz, S. H., Abrams, D. M., McRobie, A., Eckhardt, B., & Ott, E. (2005). Crowd synchrony on the Millennium Bridge. Nature, 438(7064), 43-44. —

Zhabotinsky, A. M. (2007). Belousov-zhabotinsky reaction. Scholarpedia, 2(9), 1435. —

Flavio H Fenton et al. (2008) Cardiac arrhythmia. Scholarpedia, 3(7):1665. —

Cherry, E. M., & Fenton, F. H. (2008). Visualization of spiral and scroll waves in simulated and experimental cardiac tissue. New Journal of Physics, 10(12), 125016. —

Tyson, J. J. (1994). What everyone should know about the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction. In Frontiers in mathematical biology (pp. 569-587). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. —

Winfree, A. T. (2001). The geometry of biological time (Vol. 12). Springer Science & Business Media. —

The Manim Community Developers. (2021). Manim – Mathematical Animation Framework (Version v0.13.1) [Computer software].

Special thanks to Patreon supporters: Mac Malkawi, Oleksii Leonov, Michael Schneider, Jim Osmun, Tyson McDowell, Ludovic Robillard, jim buckmaster, fanime96, Juan Benet, Ruslan Khroma, Robert Blum, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Vincent, Lyvann Ferrusca, Alfred Wallace, Arjun Chakroborty, Joar Wandborg, Clayton Greenwell, Pindex, Michael Krugman, Cy 'kkm' K'Nelson, Sam Lutfi, Ron Neal

Written by Derek Muller and Petr Lebedev
Animation by Fabio Albertelli and Jakub Misiek
Simulations and 3D Animation by Jonny Hyman
Filmed by Derek Muller and Raquel Nuno
Edited by Derek Muller
Additional video supplied by Getty Images
Thumbnail by Ignat Berbeci

More footage from NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

100 metronome video from    • メトロノーム同期(100個)  

Intro animation by Jorge Cham

Thanks for the BZ footage from SteinbockGroup:    • Scroll waves drift along step edge   and
NileRed    • Recreating one of the weirdest reactions  

Animation of waves in the heart from The Virtual Heart/ EM Cherry/ FH Fenton — and

Chemical materials and protocol provided by Mike Morris and the UCI Chemistry Outreach Program…

Thanks to Alie Ward for title/thumbnail consultation
Thanks to Dr Juliette Becker and Dr James O'Donoghue for the planetary science help

Music from Jonny Hyman, Epidemic Sound "Seaweed" "Deeper Than The Ocean" "Ripple Effect"
Music also from Artlist "Children of Mystery"

Thumbnail by Ignat Berbeci

All Comments (21)
  • Don't you just love it when you're just about to go to sleep, then you accidentally discover a new scientific phenomenon
  • @ahmadkhilfi2620
    Whenever a lot of people are having a chat to the point where the room was so noisy and then suddenly everyone just stop talking to complete silence is someting that is mesmerising and scares me. It's like they/we unknowingly agree to stop talking at the same time
  • I am a theoretical physicist, have thought about synchronization (resonance) for many years, and still I learned from this presentation. Thank you.
  • @cocobaygyan
    I am 75 years old and an engineer. Physics has been my favourite subject. We see physics all around us but most people do not observe and analyze. This video explained synchronisation so beautifully. I salute the makers of this video. Just loved it. 🙏
  • @rolturn
    This channel is what the Discovery Channel was like to me when I was a child. I love how it brings life to "uninteresting" subjects.
    I'm from Russia and I watch your videos, but I watch your videos from another channel that does Russian voice acting. But I still go to your channel looking for the right video and put a like. It was you who instilled in me a love for physics and I would like to say a huge thank you! You probably won't even read this comment, but I still want to write it. Thanks!
  • @kiwimiwi5452
    I went to a recording for a German TV show yesterday and I really enjoyed the sensation of when we, the audience, were clapping. We were in a circus and arranged around one circle in the middle, so I could look at people face to face, to the other side of the middle. (the show is called "Stars in der Manege" in case any German speaking person reading this wants to see it) When music was playing we started clapping in sync, a room of over a thousand people syncronized without any instruction to do so. It happened at different paces each time, some times the irregular phase lasted longer and others we almost syncronized right away. When we were in sync I loved looking around at a random person and no matter where my gaze went, I was in perfect sync with that person. funny how this video showed up on my feed one day later
  • @alvarocalmet
    Derek, I know we’ve worked together in the past so our relationship has been mostly professional, but honestly, I REALLY love your content and the outlook you give to the topics you touch. You and your team are amazing!
  • this reminds me of a phenomenon that sometimes a noisy class would simultaneously stop talking. In the short sudden silence everyone is like 'WTF', and finds out that it was a false alarm—the teacher hasn't come yet, and continues chattering.
  • @pravitrawat7213
    7:40 "if your friend is sympathetic enough " The guy who runs fast : "On your left ! "
  • I just realized I’ve experienced synchronization with clapping. My high school did a thing at lunch where one table would start randomly clapping and others would join in until the entire lunch room was clapping. One time it got a lot louder suddenly and I figured it was just my weird hearing but I think it was synchronicity especially because we had strong coupling. My school had a bunch of groups strongly opposing each other (mostly divided by political views) but one thing that could bring all the people together was the clapping, even the most reserved groups would get in on it. Some teachers hated it cause the noise and others liked it because it was nice seeing all the students doing something collaboratively
  • @xdarin_
    What's interesting to me is that this "Go with the flow" sync applies not just to living things. And the beauty of how despite how chaotical the world is, it's still so orderly.
  • In Hungary, members of the audience purposely sync up the clapping to honor a great performance. We call it the "iron clap". After a while, it disintegrates into just random normal applause, but people will again try to sync up. It's fun and the performers love it.
  • @finndegraaf2707
    5:14 conclusion: if school bands start playing on wobbly platforms we’ll finally always play in time. Even better, the longer we play the better we play in time!
  • 10:02 I don’t think I’ll ever see this clip and not get chills, the way all these strangers just happened to all be swayed by one another to then combine into something much louder and greater is just amazing
  • I love how the music is synchronised to the animation of Jupiter's moons at 11:42. Subtle and very clever 👏!
  • @AGlimpseInside
    Those metronomes… At one point were kicking the sickest beat
  • The part where he explained the hearts patterns and movements shocked me so much because I always see the weird pattern when I close my eyes but I never knew it was from the rhythm of your heart
  • @jamesb.9155
    I used to practice jumping into lock step say, with my dad or someone I was walking and talking with. Walking while holding hands, I found, is another way of being in synchrony! It's a lot like drumming in a big circle and locking up with a synchronous rhythm with everyone else. It is amazing to experience the sudden coalescence and to even introduce a new movement and feel the effect it has on the whole group.