Drift in Toulouse: a participatory simulation

The last 16th of October (2005) a participatory simulation was organised a Toulouse during the Science Fair for the World Year of Physics. The experience simulated the famous Brownian movement, that was theorised by Einstein hundred years ago.

In this experience, the particles with random movements have been represented by high-school students. They moved randomly in the city center choosing randomly the direction of their movements. In the following map is possible to see a representation of the particles’ position after 50 crossing.


Results showed a distortion of the obtained results from the expected results (i.e., the position of the center of gravity is shifted on the right hand-side on the map). A further exploration of the data allowed to explain this shift by the presence of an architectural barrier on the city path. The river, in fact, played an important role in directing the direction of the particles on the right upper quadrant of the map.


This is in relation with my previous post where I was highlighting that geography and geometry are not synonymous. We live and we perceive a geographical world, which we try to model with geometrical models. These models are often limited as not incorporating important factors as, in this case, natural barriers.

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