Topological vs. Metric distance

Basically all existing models of collective animal behaviour (bird flocks, fish schools, etc) assume that the interaction between different individuals depends on the metric distance, just as in physics. This implies, for example, that two birds 5 meters apart interact more strongly than two birds 10 meters apart.

Models developed by biologists are based on a “behavioural zones” scheme, where each zone is associated to one of the three basic ingredients of all models: short range repulsion, alignment, long range attraction.… Read the rest

Protein Folding

Protein Folding is a specific chemical and physical transition by which a linear sequence of aminoacids finds its functional (native) three dimensional structure. The theoretical study of protein folding represents perhaps one of the most challenging research with a marked interdisciplinary character, where biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science can fruitfully interact each other.

Our activity in this field concerns the prediction of folding mechanisms by the knowledge of tertiary structure only.

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Home Page of Andrea Cavagna


Post-Doc, Theoretical Physics, Physics Dept, Manchester University, UK, 2001 (with Alan Bray and Mike Moore)

Post-Doc, Condensed Matter, Theoretical Physics Dept, Oxford University, UK, 1999 (with David Sherrington)

Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics, University of Rome Sapienza, Italy, 1998 (Spin-Glasses – advisor Giorgio Parisi)

M.S. and B.A. in Theoretical Physics, University of Milan and SISSA – Trieste, Italy, 1995 (Conformal Field Theory – advisor Giuseppe Mussardo)

I was trained as a theoretical physicist and I have studied for some years the statistical mechanics of disordered systems, with a particular interest in spin-glasses, structural glasses and supercooled liquids. … Read the rest

STARFLAG: a project on collective animal behaviour

Collective animal behaviour is a fascinating phenomenon. How does global co-ordination emerge in a flock of thousands starlings swirling at dusk? How does a school of sardines organize in a circular pattern? What is the evolutionary function of collective behaviour? Is it purely defensive, or has it some other purpose, perhaps social? INFM-CNR was the leader node of a European project – FP6-NEST 12682 STARFLAG (2005-2008) – dedicated to the study of collective animal behaviour.Read the rest

COBBS – Press and Media Coverage

The seventh starling (Murmuration) – The Guardian

Choreografie ohne Choreografen – NZZ


Birds of a feather … track seven neighbors to flock together – News at Princeton

How do starlings create those mesmerizing murmurations – Cornell Lab Ornithology

Editorial: Tech is a flock of starlings – Engadget

Flights of Fancy: How birds (and bird-watchers) compute the behavior of a flock on the wing – American Scientist

Animal magnetism: modeling flocks of birds using simple attractions – ArsTechnica

Starling Flocks Behave Like Flying Magnets – Wired

The Startling Science of a Starling Murmuration – Wired

Birds flock with scale invariance – Physics World

How starling flocks create their aerobatic displays – BBC

The Smart Swarm – Peter Miller

Amazing Starling Flocks are Flying Avalanches – Wired

Birds network too – Science News

Study of starling formations points way for swarming robots – Daily Telegraph

Statistical Physics is for the Birds – Physics Today

A selection of low resolution photos from the project.… Read the rest