Welcome to a Scintilla of Playful Musings

Welcome to my new blog, noos anakainisis, translated literally as mind renewal. The primary obsessions are neuroscience, computation, information, structure, form, art and history of science. Some environmental, political, and technological developments will also be included.

I hope your neurons are sufficiently stimulated...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Traffic Solutions

Still waiting for the anti-jamiton. Phantom jams are born of a lot of cars using the road. No surprise there. But when traffic gets too heavy, it takes the smallest disturbance in the flow – a driver laying on the brakes, someone tailgating too closely or some moron picking pickles off his burger – to ripple through traffic and create a self-sustaining traffic jam. The mathematics of such traffic jams are strikingly similar to the equations that describe detonation waves produced by explosions and those used to describe fluid mechanics, and they model traffic jams as a self-sustaining wave. Speed, traffic density and other factors can determine conditions that will lead to a jamiton and how quickly it will spread. Once the jam forms drivers have no choice but to wait for it to clear. The new model could lead to roads designed with sufficient capacity to keep traffic density below the point at which a jamiton can form. Jamitons have a “sonic point,” which separates traffic flow into upstream and downstream components, much like the event horizon of a black hole. This sonic point prevents communication between these distinct components so information about free-flowing conditions just beyond the front of the jam can’t reach drivers behind the sonic point. Ergo, there you sit, stuck in traffic and have no idea that the jam has no external cause, your blood pressure racing toward the stratosphere.

The Model:

The Experiment:

We need to learn from the pengiuns! (Be sure to check out the penguin videos, quite striking.)

Or we need robot cars, since the congestion is a result of human error. Since the robot cars would communicate with each other once in traffic and basically hook up into a virtual train with virtual space buffers and all going the same speed without slowing and without additive errors of braking too much, or tailgating too much. It would be a hybrid b/t individual transport and mass transit, where you hail a car by phone, and then tell it where to go and later release it as needed and then the units can add to these car flocks on the highways and major roads or pop off and go their own way to your specific destination.

I want the future now!

Related Posts by Categories


Post a Comment